As the colorful leaves of autumn fall and the temperatures begin to dip, we are reminded that winter is just around the corner. And with winter comes the dreaded flu season. While the flu might seem inevitable, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself and others.
1. Get vaccinated
The most effective way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine annually. For most people who need only one dose of flu vaccine for the season, September and October are generally good times to be vaccinated against flu. Ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body.
2. Wash your hands regularly
It is recommended by the CDC to wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, which can significantly reduce your risk of catching or spreading the flu. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Handwashing with soap removes germs from hands. This helps prevent infections because people frequently touch their eyes, nose and mouth without even realizing it. Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth and make us sick.
3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
As we age, our immune response capability becomes reduced, which in turn contributes to a higher risk of infections and cancer. A strong immune system can make all the difference. Harvard Health says that regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep and stress management can boost your body’s natural defenses.
UVU offers several resources for students through the Student Life and Wellness Center to aid in keeping a healthy lifestyle. Examples are the campus gym, health and wellness programs, and other classes that are taught through SLWC.
4. Keep your distance
The Mayo Clinic explains that these viruses travel through the air in droplets when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes or talks. You can inhale the droplets directly, or you can pick up the germs from touching an object, such as a computer keyboard, and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. It is advertised to av,oid close contact with sick individuals. If you are sick, it is crucial to stay at home to prevent the spread of the flu to others.
5. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces
Flu viruses can live on surfaces for up to 24 hours. Regularly disinfecting doorknobs, light switches and other commonly touched areas can reduce the risk of infection. Find more information on the most commonly infected objects here
To find out more information about resources at UVU that can help you during this flu season, visit the Student Health Services website.