East Carolina University is fast approaching the heaviest part of flu season, and Student Health Services (SHS) recommends getting the flu shot before risking exposure to the infection this season.
Infection control, knowing the symptoms, reducing exposure to other students and getting vaccinated are the most important things to remember this season according to Latika McLeod, nurse manager at ECU student health services.
McLeod said to look out for these symptoms: body aches, a temperature holding over 100 degrees, chills and a sore throat. If the following symptoms occur, McLeod said Student Health Services encourages hydration when someone is sick because when sick it is common to lose bodily fluids because of the constant sweating, vomiting and dehydration.
“We try to promote self treatment and reassure students this is something they can manage on their own. For your first time being sick on your own we encourage hydration, monitoring your temperature, take medicine for symptoms and stay out of class and away from friends,” McLeod said.
McLeod said SHS understands that for most this is their first time alone and are considerate when it comes to appointments and helping students getting through being sick away from home. She said Student Health encourage students, faculty and staff to come in and get a flu shot.
The flu shot is a quadrivalent shot, it has four similar and different types of flu strains, and is administered by SHS on both ECU’s Main Campus and the Health Science Campus (HSC) said McLeod. She said SHS has administered over a 1,000 flu shots since mid-September and the employees have ordered more because of the high demand of them right now.
“For students and staff who come to student health there is no cost if they have health care through student health or with a network they are connected with. If we are not in network with their health care provider there is a $25 out of pocket cost for them,” McLeod said.
McLeod said getting an appointment with SHS is fairly simple. They offer in person, online and over the phone scheduling with information on their website on how to schedule an appointment. If there is a medical emergency call 911, but McLeod said there is a nurse hotline, (252) 328-6841, for students to call if they have questions or need help.
Anthony Yocum, inventory control specialist for ECU and clinic sales technician, said he is responsible for the procurement of all medications including the flu vaccinations and getting them out to clinics. Yocum said he pre-orders 16,000 to 18,000 vaccinations as early as January and February.
“Physicians recommend getting the shot in the August/September range so you are protected for longer and it will last the entire flu season,” Yocum said.
Yocum said nothing is live in the flu vaccine but the injection will cause tenderness and someone can still be a carrier if they are vaccinated. The shot is the dead version of the virus and just enough for your body to pick up on. Where as the intranasal vaccine, nasal spray or mist, is the live version, messier and not as effective Yocum said.
Yocum said the flu shot is easier to manage rather than dealing with the mist which causes a runny nose.
Yocum said the vaccine takes two weeks to take effect and to get vaccinated as soon as possible with holidays coming up. Holidays are when most people get sick because of the large gathering between entire families. It’s best to get the shot now so it takes effect before the holidays when people are around the most susceptible, the elderly and young children.
Freshmen Lylian Treece, intended nursing major, said when flu season comes around she has to be sure to wash her hands a lot more than what she normally would and avoid unnecessary physical contact with people to minimize her chances of getting sick. She suggests that every student wash their hands as much as possible, or use hand sanitizer to help.
She said she gets her flu shot every year because it has really helped prevent her from getting the flu over the years and while the flu virus is ever changing and the vaccine is not guaranteed to stop someone from getting the virus she said they it will decrease the severity of the symptoms.
“If you are in your dorm and have the flu, just be considerate of your roommate. They definitely don’t want the flu, so try to keep to yourself as much as possible, and after you’ve gotten better you should disinfect your room as well,” Treece said.