It’s odd to think that only a few weeks ago, everyone was guarding themselves against the prevalent flu virus. Unfortunately, the flu remains fairly widespread across the country.
This year, the flu virus has become a very real threat to the health of many people, especially considering the flu shot this year had a bit of difficulty keeping up with a drift strain – a small morphing of the virus that causes complications regarding the current vaccine.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Whitney Atha explained why drift strains tend to cause a particularly harmful effect on people, whether they have their flu shot or not.
“There’s a drift strain. The flu shot every year tries to kind of mimic what strain that they think is going to be the biggest strain. Well, H3N2 is the current strain, which is what was covered in the flu shot, but this year, it’s morphed just a little bit – enough to be something different to make people sick,” Atha said.
It can be even worse for college students who interact with a large number of people each day. Yet, as the weeks have gone by, some students may have grown more lax regarding hygiene.
Nurse Practitioner at the Esry Health Center Beth Roderick advises that students make sure to still take precautions against such viruses.
“The flu shot didn’t do a real good job this year preventing it,” Roderick said. “If you are sick, stay home, and stay away from people who are sick.”
Angie Davis, an advanced practice registered nurse, agreed that it’s good to take precautions.
“Hand washing is a big one,” Davis said. “Cover your cough, but make sure that it’s not in your hands.”
Atha agreed that keeping your hands clean is essential to staying healthy.
“Truly, hand hygiene is the number one way to prevent getting the flu,” Atha said. “Viruses are very smart. They can change just a little bit so that they stay alive. At a cellular level, they’re very smart bugs, and they’ll morph just enough to make it to the next year, so we’re always playing catch-up when scientists make the upcoming flu vaccine, they look at strains in the past to try and predict what’s going to happen.”
As far as questions that people might have, Davis recommends going online to find some answers.
“The CDC is the greatest place to go, because it’s going to answer every question that you have about the flu,” she said.
Various articles on the site provide insight into flu prevention and treatment, and students are encouraged to still practice healthy hygiene habits despite the drop in some of the key indicators of the virus.