With flu season in full swing, East Carolina University officials are urging students to educate themselves about the proper ways to stay healthy.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 63 flu deaths, as of Feb. 12. Due to the state of the nation as it relates to the flu, ECU officials and staff members are encouraging students to take the proper precautions to avoid the national epidemic.
ECU Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences Phyllis Horns said there are various methods students can use to prevent the flu.
“The number one thing they (students) can do is to get a flu shot,” Horns said. “It is not too late, even though it is in February, so anyone who has not had one, that is the first thing they should do.”
The Student Health Center is currently offering flu vaccines by appointment, according to Ellen Goldberg, the associate director for clinical operations at ECU.
“It’s not 100 percent, but the strains that are circulating right now are genetically similar to what’s in the vaccine,” Goldberg said. “We are seeing patients that, even if they do get the flu and have had the flu shot, their course of illness is much less severe than someone who hasn’t had it.”
Horns said besides the flu shot, students and staff should wash their hands regularly, particularly before eating, to help stop the spread of the virus.
The dining halls also have a system in which healthy students are able to pick up food for a student with the flu and bring it back for them, so the individual does not have to go to the dining hall, according to Goldberg. However, she said the best thing the school can do right now is promote awareness and educate students, when it comes to prevention and how to deal with the flu properly.
Rakym Winstead, a sophomore construction major, said he got the flu about two weeks ago. After dealing with his symptoms for two days, he decided to go to the SHC for treatment.
Although Winstead felt he was treated quickly and effectively, he said he didn’t feel prepared before going in.
“As far as like education on it, before I got there, I really didn’t know too much about what to do and stuff,” Winstead said in a phone interview. “So I feel like they could do better on that part, but as far as like, once I got down there with the appointment and everything, it got better.”
Although the flu is a serious illness, the university does not count it as a university excused absence, according to the ECU website.
“Communication with their (the students’) professors is important,” Goldberg said. “We do recommend that students that have flu symptoms avoid contact with other people to help avoid spreading it, but we understand that students have a lot of pressure to attend classes. So, the best thing to do is to communicate with professors.”
Horns said because this year’s flu season has been much worse than previous years, with many serious cases and several deaths, students should take the flu seriously.
“Even though most of our students are young, energetic and think that these kinds of things might not happen to them, it does happen to them,” Horns said. “We’ve seen many situations where young people, healthy people, have succumb to the flu this year. So taking it seriously is part of the message we want to convey to students.”
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