By Christina Hallowell, Vice President
It’s that time of year again. That’s right, flu season. Here at the University of Maine Farmington (UMF), it gets very cold in the winter, making it hard to get outside and easy to contract the flu virus.
Nurse Manager at the UMF Health Center, Lisa Lisius explained ways for all of us to stay healthy this flu season, including easy ways like getting the flu shot. “Interestingly enough, flu bugs like a very dry environment and that’s certainly what places inside during the winter are like,” said Lisius. “Germs spread easily if there are a lot of people in an enclosed area, whether that be your residence hall or your classroom.”
Lisius admitted that she knows, “most people don’t like shots. But it definitely decreases your chance of getting the flu.” She also noted some data collected that says that if you decide to get vaccinated, “you won’t be as sick and you won’t be sick for as long”
Lisius warned the student body of UMF to, “wash your hands!” Most of the germs we pick up on a daily basis are from things we touch. When we put our fingers near our eyes, nose, and mouth, that’s how those germs get into our system. “Become a compulsive hand washer,” she added.
“If you’re significantly sick, have a fever over 100 degrees, body aches, and you really don’t want to get out of bed: don’t,” said Lisius. “Stay home if you’re sick.” Preventing the spread of illness is very important during flu season.
Additionally, Lisius advises that, “any student who works with children or elderly, it is their responsibility to get the flu shot.” She explained that although most college students are young and healthy, and getting the flu only means missing 3-5 days of classes, influenza for very young or very old people can mean hospitalization or even death. “Thousands of people in the US do die from the flu every year,” said Lisius. “[Children and the elderly are] the ones who are much more likely to have complications with the flu, so please make getting the shot a priority.”
“If you’re really interested in staying healthy this flu season at UMF, make sure your group of close friends get vaccinated,” said Lisius. “Have you heard of herd immunity? if most people are vaccinated, things don’t get a chance to spread as easily.” Whether its your roommates or group of best friends, its in your best interest to make sure the people you spend the most time with are also protected against illness. Junior JoLonna Gough, Technology Health Advocate for the UMF Student Health Center said this of herd immunity, “anybody that gets the flu shot and then claims to get the flu later, it’s not the same strain or anything like that it’s important to protect yourself and protect others.”
A study from the University of Minnesota was conducted on college students to examine how vaccinations affected study habits. ”[This study found that] thirty-two-percent of college students were less likely to miss class, said Lisius. “forty-seven-percent of them were less likely to do poorly on a test.”
Getting sick can mean that students have to work hard to catch up while still trying to recuperate. “Nobody really has time to be sick, really,” said Gough. “Get the flu shot!”
The next two flu shot clinics will be Friday, November 21st in room CR123 of the Student Center from 11:30 a.m to 1:00 p.m and Wednesday, December 3rd in the lobby of the Education Center from 11:30 a.m to 1:00 p.m.