As Americans endure the winter months, the peak flu season, which lasts from December through February, puts citizens at a higher risk of contracting the virus.
There are several options when it comes to illness prevention, with the single most important option being the flu shot. Jessica Pettersson, health promotions manager for the Center for Health and Counseling at Salt Lake Community College, stresses the importance of the flu vaccine.
“Millions of individuals in the US will get the flu every year, and an annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect yourself against the flu,” Pettersson says. “The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Most flu vaccines in the US protect against four different flu virus strains.”
The Center for Health and Counseling is currently offering free flu shots for current students, and there is no appointment needed. All students need to do is call ahead to ensure the vaccine is in stock. Pettersson advises that it’s never too late to get a vaccine.
“Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination, so it’s important to get your flu shot before the start of flu season,” Pettersson says. “But it is still beneficial to get your flu shot now, even this late in the season, and I would encourage students who haven’t to get one.”
Besides the flu shot, there are several other measures that students can take to stay free of the flu, like practicing proper hygiene.
“Some other ways to keep yourself healthy and flu-free this semester are to avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay home when you are sick to prevent spreading your illness to others, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing … and washing your hands well and often,” Pettersson says. “Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like flu will also help in preventing you from getting sick.”
Lastly, Pettersson reminds everyone about the importance of keeping the body healthy and strong.
“As always, getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, managing your stress, drinking plenty of fluids and eating nutritious food will also help you have a healthy and successful semester,” Pettersson says.