As the winter season begins and the stress of finals draws closer, it’s more important than ever for Collegiates to stay free from the flu, as flu activity typically reaches its peak in January and February.
Luckily for students and faculty, flu shots are available for free to any UIUC student or staff member as long as they have their campus ID. Students must be enrolled in the student health insurance plan and staff members must show an insurance card from a state-sponsored plan.
“I knew that flu shots were something I was already paying for as part of my tuition, so I thought I might as well make use of that,” Maggie Pluskota, freshman at UIUC, said. “Plus, I’m always getting sick, and if there’s a flu going around, I’ll probably get it.”
Between five and 20 percent of the U.S. population will get the flu each year and 200,000 of those Americans will be hospitalized. The flu vaccine takes two weeks for the antibodies to develop and provide protection against the flu, so it is important to get it during the month of December, before the peak.
While some people worry that the flu shot may not be effective and fear the potential flu-like symptoms as a result of the shot, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites that numerous studies demonstrate that the vaccine can reduce the risk of the flu by 60 percent among the overall population.
Jesus Monroy, freshman at UIUC, did not experience any symptoms after getting a flu shot at the McKinley Health Center. “I think it’s necessary to get a flu shot, especially now as finals are close to the time when it gets cold,” Monroy said. “I don’t want to be sick during a time when I’m supposed to be studying and on top of my game.”
Students can get vaccinations from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the McKinley Health Center. This year, UIUC expanded protection by creating a mobile flu clinic in order to get the vaccination to as many students as possible.
Living in a dorm means sharing a lot of time around others, and classrooms are constantly filled with students, making it hard to avoid the spread of germs. Just imagine the amount of people who have studied in the same space you have and the amount of hands on the mouse of your computer in the basement of the Illini Union.
College students are always on the go, and getting sick can really impact one’s studies. “In college, if you get that sick, you’ll be pretty miserable and you’ll want to miss class or maybe you actually will,” Pluskota said. “It may make you fall behind. No one likes to be sick in general.”
Here are some tips from The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to help you avoid the flu this winter.
● Wash hands often with soap and water
● Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, actions that lead to spreading germs
● Avoid close contact with other people you know are sick
● Get plenty of sleep and exercise, manage your stress, drink lots of fluids and eat health food
● Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
● Frequently clean your dorm room