Avoiding the flu only hurts for a second

Avoiding the flu only hurts for a second

January 15
00:04 2013

On Friday, January 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that this year’s flu season has reached the status of “epidemic.” It may not be the zombie apocalypse you were hoping for, and the Mayans certainly didn’t predict it — but students in Texas still need to get the facts to avoid infection. Here’s how:

Do some shots: We’ll be honest, the flu shot isn’t a sure bet against infection. It takes a few weeks to become fully active, and even then it’s only about 62 percent likely to save you from the virus if you’re exposed. But it’s still important to get vaccinated, especially when you live on a busy college campus. Classes have barely started and the flu is already popping up among UNT students, and by getting the shot, you’re decreasing the risk that you’ll pass the flu to someone who isn’t as young or healthy as you.

It’s not gonna hurt, you big baby: First of all, don’t stress about somehow catching the virus from the vaccine. It’s not possible, since the shot uses a dead and inactive specimen of the flu. That being said, you might still feel a little funny after receiving the shot — a small percentage of people report feeling sore or having a low fever for a day or two after getting the vaccine, but this passes quickly and doesn’t mean you’re getting sick.

If you’re afraid of needles, try counting to ten with your eyes closed and visualizing yourself heroically saving lives.

There’s just one problem: The UNT Student Health and Wellness Center is currently out of the flu vaccine. But don’t freak out yet — you can also find the shot at Denton’s local CVS, Walgreens and Albertsons pharmacies.

Additional locations can be found on Flu.gov, an informative website from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

You’re not done yet: After you’ve braved the shot, there’s some extra steps you can take to reduce your risk of infection even more. Make sure you’re washing your hands frequently, and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when you don’t have a sink.

It’s also important to get plenty of sleep, since sleep deprivation reduces your immune system’s ability to fight infection. Another precaution is to stop smoking — cigarette smoke harms cells in your nose that screen viruses out of your breath, making you more prone to airborne infection.

This should be easy to remember, since the new semester marks the beginning of UNT’s campus wide smoking ban. Convenient, isn’t it?

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