SLU flu season is upon us again, and this year’s strain is already the most widespread flu on record in the past 13 years. It has caused the death of 37 children in the United States, more than normal for this early in the flu season.
Around 12,000 people have been hospitalized with confirmed flu cases since October 1. In the Canton community, the flu arrived around three weeks ago, and SLU’s campus became home to the flu approximately two weeks ago, just as students started to come back after winter break.
This flu season is notable in that it began earlier in the year than normal, and that the predominant strain, H3N2, is one of the most aggressive strains of the flu. This strain is associated with more hospitalizations, illnesses, and deaths due to its ability to change its features quickly to better invade the immune system.
Many practices, such as proper hand washing and vaccination, can help prevent people from contracting the flu. Every flu season, a vaccine is developed that contains the strains most likely to be present that flu season. This season’s vaccine is not as effective as past years have been; that being said, receiving the flu vaccine is still a good idea, as it can lessen the severity and duration of the illness even if you do end up contracting it.
When asked about the flu on campus, Erin Casey, Clinical Director of Health Services, stated, “This year’s flu vaccine clinics were the most successful in St. Lawrence’s history, having administered over 270 flu vaccinations to students.”
Casey also said that next year, the health center plans to order even more vaccinations to better serve the St. Lawrence campus community. When asked what the most important things are to know this flu season, Casey explained, “The SLU community is currently in the toughest part of the flu season right now.” She added that if you are having symptoms, you should not wait to come to the health center; stay home if necessary.
To help prevent people from catching the flu, this season’s vaccinations are still available at local pharmacies. Becoming vaccinated can help prevent the spread of this illness to many community members who are at higher risk and/or are unable to get the vaccine for themselves, mainly children and the elderly.
If you begin to feel common symptoms of the flu, namely fever, body ache, nausea, diarrhea, cough, and sore throat, visit the Health Center as soon as possible. The Health Center has walk in hours every Monday through Thursday 9 a.m-11 a.m., and Friday 10 a.m.-12p.m.