Editor’s Note: For more information about the UH Health Center, please visit its website.
Achoo! The dreaded sneeze flies from your roommate’s mouth before you can leap for cover. Even though they wipe their nose with a tissue, you can’t help but distort your face in a public showing of disgust — the only thing offering you solace being the hope that you may not have caught the dreaded flu virus.
And you have every right to be concerned.
According to the Center for Disease Control, the flu virus can reach people as far away as six feet due to a sneeze or a cough. The main flu viruses spreading are types A and B, the two types of viruses that spread through the populace every flu season. And the symptoms can be pretty nasty.
Caused by an influenza virus that infects the nose, throat and lungs, the common symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. Frankly, none of these are something a college student wants to deal with when there are tests to be taken, notes to be studied and projects to be completed, especially at UH, which was already rated by brightfutura.com as one of the toughest-grading universities.
But students are so busy all day that it can seem like a hassle to sanitize your hands every time you touch a public stairwell or Clorox your shared restroom every time someone uses the bathroom. Nevertheless, staying sanitary is the key, according to the CDC, especially since an infected person is contagious one full day before they show symptoms of being ill.
The only other advice is to stay home if you are sick, as you are still contagious for between five and seven days after becoming ill. Another tidbit of advice, ABC World News reported, is that the most effective way to stop the germs from spreading during a sneeze is a good old-fashioned tissue.
But the best advice is to get vaccinated. And compared to many prices in the city by health providers, UH students and faculty have one of the best options around. The campus offers the flu vaccine at the University Health Center for only $25, and there’s no out-of-pocket cost at all for those under the UH 2013-2014 student health insurance plan.
The flu shot is an investment not only for the student receiving it but also for the people around them. By protecting themselves from getting sick or at least making the odds better, the student has lowered the chances of spreading the virus to others. Let’s keep more students in classes and fewer students in their dorms, huddled under blankets and sipping hot soup to stop a cold.
Stay healthy, my friends.
Opinion columnist Rachel Lee is an English sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]