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Flu Fears and Facts From QCC’s Health Consultant

February, 2019
  • Flu season is underway.
    Flu season is underway.

The influenza virus or flu as it’s commonly known is a contagious respiratory illness that peaks during this time of year. We’ve all heard the scary statistics every fall and winter when the flu season peaks between December and February, but did you know that flu activity can last as late as May? While the young and the elderly (65 and older) are particularly vulnerable, anyone is susceptible to the flu and those on a college campus are not immune to the virus. A 2017 survey by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) of undergraduate students at two and four-year institutions, who were between 18-24 years old, found that vaccination rates for influenza hovered between 8-39 percent.

The best defense in preventing the flu is a good offense (just ask the New England Patriots!) and a few tips can help increase your chances of avoiding the flu this season and every season.

To keep QCC’s campus as healthy as possible follow these simple preventative guidelines:

  • Get vaccinated! It’s not too late to get your flu vaccine. Health Map Vaccine is a website that helps the public with locating influenza and adult vaccination services within their communities. This is a free, online service that provides up-to-date information about vaccination services.
  • Wash your hands! Use soap and water and wash for at least 20 seconds (suds and friction remove the most germs) or use hand sanitizer, which is located in areas throughout QCC.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes! Use a tissue (dispose of it properly) or use your upper sleeve/shoulder, but never use just your hands.
  • Avoid contact with others while you’re sick. If you feel sick, stay home! If you have a fever, stay home until you are fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.

A common issue for people is knowing the difference between a common cold and the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu is caused by influenza viruses and is most prevalent around the same time of year as the common cold. Due to their similarities it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two. Symptoms for the flu are almost always much worse and can include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle and overall body aches, headaches, and fatigue.  Cold symptoms are usually milder than the symptoms of flu. 

 Symptoms of the flu can vary slightly from person to person and not everyone who gets the flu will have a fever.

The CDC website states that most people who get the flu have a mild illness and do not need medical care. However, complications from the flu can become extremely serious and getting the flu is not something that should be taken lightly. The CDC recommends consulting your medical provider for any flu symptom that is severe or concerning.

Depending on the severity of the flu, there are antiviral drugs your doctor can prescribe to lessen the severity of the flu and that may also prevent serious complications.

“In Massachusetts there is widespread influenza activity now. Area hospitals are seeing a significant increase in Influenza cases,” said Susan Johnson, QCC Health Consultant, who suggests those who have not gotten their flu shot to consider doing so. “It’s not too late to get your Flu shot.”

To learn more visit QCC Health Wellness.