Feb. 4, 2013
With a record number of outbreaks across the United States, many people are concerned about contracting the flu.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost all U.S. areas are experiencing record levels of the outbreak this season. Google’s “flu trends” has listed Colorado Springs flu season as intense, its highest level of measurement.
For students, as the semester begins, the ability to spread germs becomes easier. The Student Health Center aims to keep UCCS students healthy for class.
Dr. Vicki Schober, medical director on campus since 2005, has been involved with the Student Health Center for more than 10 years and is dedicated to keeping students well.
“The flu is caused by the influenza virus and is transmitted through a variety of ways including sneezing and touching,” Schober explained. This allows the flu to spread more easily and can, in extreme cases, result in death.
There are ways students can keep healthy and not catch illnesses during the semester.
“The biggest tips proven by researchers are washing your hands,” she said, suggesting that students sing “Happy Birthday” twice for the correct amount of washing time. “You don’t have to sing it out loud,” she said.
Schober added that basic habits can keep immune systems healthy. “Carrying hand sanitizer, getting enough sleep, eating healthy and drinking plenty of water really help,” she said.
Despite national statistics, UCCS has not yet experienced a flu outbreak. “The first couple of weeks are when we expect to see students in,” Schober said.
The Student Health Center has ordered more vaccinations in anticipation of an increase in cases on campus but expects to be out of their supply soon.
Schober encouraged students to get the flu shot. “The flu vaccine is made based on what the widespread strain is, and this year it is a good match,” she said.
There is a chance the shot will not help based on personal medical history, but it can greatly reduce one’s chances of getting sick.
“It takes two weeks for the antibodies to take care of the virus. The shot is an inactive strain of the virus, and you cannot get flu from the shot,” Schober explained. “It’s common to feel achy after the shot, but that’s your immune system at work.”
Schober said, “If students have a fever over 101 [degrees], students should not go to class.”
The Student Health Center can also contact professors should a student miss class for being sick. Students living in the resident halls can receive support from their resident assistant, who can help get food service when they are sick.
In an email sent out to students last week, the health center said it had “a handful of shots left at $20 each.” Students interested in getting a flu shot can call 255-4444 and schedule an appointment.