What to expect from this year’s flu season

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Sue Lee

Health Science Center July 2013. Photo by Sue Lee, University Communications.

Julia Balli, General Assignment Reporter

Flu season is coming, and students at University of Wisconsin – La Crosse are largely affected by it. Cases of the flu tend to increase in November, reaching its peak in December and stay at that point until April, according to The Weather Channel. 

“There were 87 cases of diagnosed influenza at the Student Health Center last year.  Of course, this does not include students who were not seen or diagnosed elsewhere,” said UWL Health Center Physician, Abigail Deyo. 

Usually, La Crosse County logs about 20 flu-related hospitalizations a season, according to the La Crosse Tribune. About five UWL students are hospitalized each year because of the flu, according to UWL Campus News. 

When living in a dorm with 300+ students and being in classrooms and shared restrooms, those who get sick can lose up to eight days or more of class, which can cause those students to fall behind in their academics.  

The flu can spread very quickly and easily, but surprisingly vaccination rates on college campuses are “strikingly low” — as low as 8 percent and only as high as 39 percent, according to a 2016 report from the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases. 

“Get your vaccine! Come to the clinic and get it whenever. Make sure to wash your hands, and don’t cough in each other’s face. Also, take care of yourself. Make sure you eat properly to keep your immune system strong,” said Deyo. 

In 2016-2017, flu vaccination prevented an estimated 5.3 million influenza illnesses, 2.6 million influenza-associated medical visits, and 85,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations.  flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor with flu by 40 percent to 60 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which conducts studies each year to determine how well the flu vaccine protects against flu illness. 

The flu shot and the flu mist are both available at the UWL Health Center, although the flu mist quantities are limited. Students can easily get the vaccine by attending the Flu Vaccine Clinic, Nov. 5. No appointment is necessary, but a photo ID is required. Getting the vaccine will prevent not only you from getting the flu, but other people around you as well.  

Many students take other precautions to protect themselves from the flu. “I make sure to use hand sanitizer, wash my hands, and get a lot of vitamins. I try to limit the exposure as much as possible,” said UWL freshman, Gwen Bellmore. 

Other ways to prevent the flu is avoid touching the face, clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched, and get plenty of sleep.  

The impact of this flu season can be heard to predict, but by taking appropriate actions to prevent it could make this flu season a mild one.

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