Flu season: Prevention and tips for UConn students

Free flu shots, for UConn undergraduate and graduate students, are available from Monday through Friday 8 a.m to 7 p.m and Saturday through Sunday 8 a.m to 3:30 pm. (File/The Daily Campus)

College students are more likely to get sick because they live in close proximity with a large number of people, according to Ellyssa Eror, interim medical director at University of Connecticut Student Health Services.

The 2017-2018 flu season is more intense than any since the 2009 swine flu pandemic according to The New York Times. As of this week, 32 people in Connecticut have died to the flu pandemic. Therefore, UConn students should follow certain prevention tips, like getting a flu shot, to avoid getting sick, Eror said in an email.

“Students live in close quarters which facilitates transmission of the flu virus,” Eror said. “ Yes, [students should] absolutely get a flu shot! Free flu shots are available at Student Health Services on a walk-in basis.”

Maggie Carroll, a fifth semester Spanish and education major, said that she wanted to get a flu shot to avoid missing classes due to her illness.

“I got my flu shot because I didn’t want to getting sick and not being able to go to class,” Carroll said. “I don’t always get a shot but after getting the flu last year and missing the first two weeks of the spring semester I didn’t want to deal with that again.”

In addition to getting a flu shot, students should try to wash their hands as much as possible, avoid rubbing their eyes and stay healthy by eating right, according to Eror.

“I got [the flu] because I tempted my luck by going out without proper clothing,” Karen Sandoval, fifth semester Nutritional sciences major, said. “Wear proper clothing for the weather and try to wash your hands as much as you can. If you do get sick, try to take medication as soon as possible and rest.”

If a student gets sick, they need to remove themselves from others and focus on improving their health, according to Eror.

“Avoid contact with others if you are ill. Self-isolate at home if possible,” Eror said. “If you stay on campus, self-isolate in your room and use hand sanitizer and wear a mask when you need to leave.  Stay out of class and work until you are fever and symptom free for 24 hours without using fever reducing medication.”

Maxwell Skalskia fifth semester marketing major, said that the easiest thing to do while he was sick was to get more sleep.

“My main goal was getting enough sleep so I could get better quickly,” Skalski said. “Best advice I can give is sleep, stay in your room, drink some soup and play some GTA V.”

It can be increasingly difficult for students to completely remove themselves from their classes and work. However, one needs to figure out a balance, Amanda Blazka, sixth semester Human Development and Family Studies major, said.  

“Being at school while sick stinks particularly because the stresses of schoolwork and life don’t pause because you are down,” Blazka said. “As an out-of-state student, being away from parents also increases the anxiety of being sick.”

Overall, students need to stay aware of flu like symptoms (fever, muscle aches, headache, cough and runny nose) and go to Student Health Services immediately if they feel they have these symptoms to help get better and prevent spreading, Eror said.

“Call us at Student Health Services,” Eror said. “We can help [you get over the flu].”

This past Saturday, Eastern Highlands Health District had a flu clinic at the E.O. Smith High School for students of UConn and citizens of Mansfield. The Student Health Center provides a similar UConn based flu clinic periodically during the school year. Free flu shots, for UConn undergraduate and graduate students, are available from Monday through Friday 8 a.m to 7 p.m and Saturday through Sunday 8 a.m to 3:30 pm.


Rachel Philipson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at rachel.philipson@uconn.edu.