An apple a day keeps the doctor away, and flu shots do too

The health center has recently seen an increase in flu shots and vaccinations, said Director of Health Services Jessica Higgs.

“We’ve given out over 100 more flu shots than last year, which is always encouraging for a
healthy winter,” she said. “Since school started Aug. 22 we have seen 1856 visits to the health center. This does not include counseling numbers, but the routine vaccinations and other chronic illness follow-ups. That number is up about five percent from last year at this time.”

Although the number of students are being cautious about their health has increased, Higgs says it is still difficult to estimate the exact number of students who are currently sick on campus.

“We have seen a fair number of strep [throat] and mono this year, as well as a few students with the flu,” she said. “There has also been a fairly lengthy viral infection that is taking students about two weeks to get better from. It’s difficulty to say [how many students are sick] as not everyone on campus uses the health center or goes to the doctor when they are sick.”

Junior elementary education major Shardonnay Hawthorne said she has been taking extra steps to avoid getting sick.

“I’m gonna start taking vitamins,” she said. “And I always carry hand sanitizer. It’s important to stay clean and healthy.”

Higgs said it is important that students take care of themselves in order to prevent their chances of getting sick this winter, especially for students living in such close proximity in the dorms.

“It can’t be stated enough that frequent hand-washing is a big key to staying healthy,” she said. “Getting a flu shot is helpful,” she said. “Encouraging yourself and others to cover their cough or sneeze is also important.”

Higgs also said students should be getting an adequate amount of sleep, which, for students, is between eight and 10 hours a night.

Junior nursing major Melissa Nussbaum said she agreed students should get plenty of sleep.

“A big thing students can do to stay healthy is to get enough sleep,” she said. “A lot of students tend to pull all nighters, or they are running around doing things that cause them to not get a full night’s sleep. If they don’t get enough sleep it causes their immune systems to wear down, making them more susceptible to the flu virus and other sicknesses.”

In addition to getting sleep and being cautious of germs, Higgs said it’s important to maintain a healthy diet.

“Eating healthy and maintaining a routine exercise schedule also helps to keep your immune system functioning at a high level,” she said. “Having a humidifier in your dorm room can help with cold symptoms, and getting outside to get some fresh air when it’s not super cold is also recommended.”

Freshman marketing major Emily Rieker said she makes sure she stays active during the flu season.

“I try and work out more when it starts getting cold,” she said. “Because I’m not outside as often and you don’t move around in your dorm as much.”

Health services is located in the Markin center, across from the pool, and can assist students by appointment only. Call 309-677-2700 to make an appointment.