Student Health Services prepares for flu season

Student Health Services advises students of flu prevention methods. (Photo by Nicole Lewis.)
Student Health Services advises students of flu prevention methods. (Photo by Nicole Lewis.)

As the influenza pandemic continues to spread, George Mason University is promoting healthy precautions through its health service organizations.

According to Student Health Services, the flu is a respiratory virus that usually hits between October and April and varies in severity from year to year.

“The flu begins suddenly with high fever, body aches and fatigue,” SHS says on their website.

Mason’s SHS is stressing the importance of flu prevention on campus. Posters and announcements encouraging flu vaccinations appear on their website and near their office in Student Union Building I.

“The flu is very serious this year because of the rate at which it has spread nationwide,” said Virginia Freid, statistician at the CDC. “Take a flu shot, wash your hands and stay away from sick people.”

However, SHS is currently out of the flu shot and will not be restocked in time to treat students with the flu, according to their Executive Director Wagida Abdalla.

The Center for Disease Control says on their website that being vaccinated yearly is the best prevention for avoiding the flu because new strains develop each year.

Abdalla agrees with Freid, saying that general hygiene, eating healthy and rest are essential to avoiding the flu. SHS also advises plenty of rest and fluids, as well as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, to treat the flu.

Junior Christina Mannino has been ill with the H3N2 strain of the flu since Jan. 13 but was misdiagnosed at first.

"I went to a clinic that night because I was so sick, and the flu test came back negative, but I was still so sick," Mannino said. “The next morning I went to my real doctor and he said that happens to a lot of people who have the flu. I was convinced I had the flu and an upper respiratory infection as well.”

Since her diagnosis, Mannino has been using an inhaler, over-the-counter cough and cold medicines, and drinking echinacea tea to subdue her flu symptoms.

Despite the loudness of the flu, some students aren’t afraid of catching the virus. Junior Brigitte Keen has not received the vaccination against the flu and doesn’t intend to do so.

“I’ve been told it’s a big deal and that I could die from it, but I just don’t think that’s going to happen,” Keen said.

“Since the semester just started on Tuesday, as you know, we have only had two students [report] the flu,” Abdalla said. “We have a plan as we see the [flu] rates waning down in Virginia.”

SHS encourages students to visit to find the nearest location carrying the flu shot.

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