Nearly every year moms call and remind their college kids to get a flu shot. Samantha Wilber, a freshman at Palm Beach Atlantic University, is one case of this, as she begrudgingly agreed after lectures and phone calls from her mom. She scheduled her shot with the PBA Health and Wellness Center, yet she is flu-free another year; this could be attributed to her mother's consistent reminders and those annual flu shots, however this could also be due to a strong immune system and healthy habits.
For this season, nevertheless, a mother's reminders are more pertinent than ever. This season's flu strand is particularly nasty and these shots, although not as effective as with previous strands, are still strongly advised as a preventative of the virus.
For PBA, the question is “How can the school prevent the spread of this virus?” The university's Health and Wellness Center sent out a health alert to the student body warning of the high possibility of infection as well as advice in regards to preventing and treating the flu.
The PBA Health and Wellness Center is actively advising students to not only get a flu shot, but also to take other necessary precautions this flu season.
"There are various strains of influenza, and the severity of spread and symptoms can increase based on the type of strain," remarks Melissa Eha from PBA's Health and Wellness Center. "This year the CDC [Center for Disease Control] is reporting that the strain that is most prevalent this year has been influenza A which tends to cause a wider spread of infection and severity of symptoms."
The department warns that some cases of influenza have been diagnosed on campus and that these steps will be essential in helping prevent an outbreak. The department is also helping students get flu shots, encouraging students that these shots are the most probable way to ward off the virus.
"Approximately 10-15 confirmed cases of students/staff/faculty that we have seen in the clinic," Eha explained, acknowledging that other cases may still exist on campus after being diagnosed by an outside practice.
The PBA Health and Wellness Center is open Monday through Friday for students on campus.
These cases on PBA's campus are only one example of the flu's impact nationwide. In Clearwater, Fla., Calvary Christian High School closed last Friday due to 100 kids and five teachers out sick. Along with Calvary Christian, the entire Gulf County School District shut down Friday, according to ABC Action News.
In Charlotte, NC, another private school, Carmel Christian School, was forced to shut down Jan. 11 and Jan. 12 due to over 160 students out sick with the flu. In North Carolina alone, there have been 20 deaths due to the flu this year.
The Center for Disease Control, CDC, recommends that those who can should get a flu shot as soon as possible. The antibodies found in the vaccine take up to two weeks to fully develop the ability to fight the virus, therefore it is essential to get the shot before the flu spreads in the immediate community.