By Gabriela Ferre
It is the season of tissue boxes, NightQuil, and chicken noodle soup, the 2020 flu season is here and is ready to attack. With all regions being affected by the flu, according to the Center of Disease Control there has been 4.6 million cases this year, which is 2.6 percent more than last year. This year there has been around 170.3 million flu vaccinations distributed, attacking both influenza A and B. With hospitalizations not being concerningly high, there has still been 32 pediatric deaths this season which is the most reported in the last 17 years, stated by the CDC.
The influenza virus can spread when someone with the flu coughs or sneezes or simply if you touch something that the virus is on. The CDC reported that although symptoms mostly develop two days after being affected by the flu, the third or fourth day being ill is the most contagious. Some might pass the flu before even knowing they have the flu. Although Influenza A and B are the most popular, influenza C also causes flu-like symptoms that are less dangerous. It is important to remember that the influenza virus lives indoors, making it easier to spread as it stays in the air. Being indoors and being in close contact with our peers for too long makes it easier to catch the flu this season. Some key symptoms of the flu are runny/stuffy nose, body aches, fatigue, and a fever ( 100° F or greater). With the flu taking over universities it is important to take precautions to prevent catching the flu.
The key step in preventing the flu is getting the flu shot, the CDC reported that the flu shot this year has been updated to match the influenza. Other steps for preventing the flu at Bryant are to drink plenty of water, get plenty of sleep and avoid touching your face without washed hands. That being said, for students who are already infected with either strands of the flu should constantly be covering their mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, wash their hands regularly, and should stay home as the flu spreads easily. Data from the National foundation for Infectious Diseases states that 46% of college students typically get the annual flu, meaning that college students are more susceptible to catching the flu. The NFID stated that although 70% of college students believe that getting vaccinated is important, only about 8% of students actually get vaccinated due to the lack of access on and around campus.
Access to the vaccine can be found around the Bryant community on campus at the health center and off campus at local pharmacy’s. Many college students do not get vaccinated because they believe they are healthy and don’t need to be vaccinated. Others are worried about the risk of getting vaccinated. The National Foundation for Infectious Disease is trying to promote vaccinations at universities by having incentives and making it more accessible to students. As we see our peers missing a week or more of classes due to the flu it is important to take precaution by getting vaccinated, washing your hands regularly and sleeping 8 or more hours and drinking plenty of fluids. Influenza particles are everywhere in class, at sporting events, and at the dining hall. It is never too late to get the flu shot, save yourself from the hours of class notes and homework you’ll have to make up due to being ill with the flu.