Staying healthy during flu season

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September 23 was the first official day of my favorite season—Autumn. Pumpkins can be seen popping up around campus, cozy scarfs are being unpacked, and everything smells of pumpkin spice. Yes, my friends, the season of falling leaves and Halloween screams is upon us, but there is one monster we must face before we reach our Halloween-town happiness: the flu. For those who don’t know, the flu is a contagious illness that affects the nose, throat, and sometimes lungs that appears around the end of Summer and can last through Winter. This virus is typically spread through the air when people cough, sneeze, and talk. Early symptoms of the flu include fatigue, body aches, chills, coughing, sore throat, and a fever. For some, these are the only symptoms experienced and last a few days, but for others, the flu can lead to an increase in symptoms experienced, leading to hospitalization and sometimes death in more serious cases. According to a medically-reviewed article published in 2018 by Healthline, the 2017-2018 flu season was one of the biggest, with an estimated 900,000 people hospitalized and an estimated 80,000 deaths reported due to the flu virus.

The most common way to prevent the flu is by getting the influenza vaccination every year. Whether you choose the shot or the nasal spray version, getting the flu vaccination has been proven to reduce your risk of contracting the virus and the symptoms experienced, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although the vaccine is not 100% effective all the time, the CDC says it remains one of the best defenses against the virus.

It not only protects you, but the people who cannot get the vaccination due to its egg-based manufacturing process. I happen to be one of those people. I am allergic to a protein that is in both eggs and in the vaccination. Because of this, I’ve always had to rely on others around me to get the shot as a way to keep me protected from the virus. Even though it is important for people to get vaccinated if they can, it is also important for those of us who cannot get the vaccine to stay healthy as well. Our Resident Nurse on campus, Carol Palmer, said you can help stay healthy and guard against the flu by washing your hands, eating well, getting adequate sleep, and getting sunlight.

For those who may want to get free flu shots, Transy will be hosting its annual Health & Wellness Fair on Thursday, Oct. 10 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Beck Center’s Recreational Gym. Otherwise, the shot is $15 at the Campus Health Center, located in the Rosenthal Commons. You can also go to any local pharmacy with your insurance card and get the vaccine. The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department will also be having its annual free flu shot event on Thursday, Oct. 10 at Fayette Mall from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Click here for more info on the event.

If you are experiencing the symptoms listed above and think you might have the flu, visit the Campus Health Center in Rosenthal Commons or your local healthcare provider so you can get a flu screening.