When the air gets cold and the wind picks up, the winter months can be tough, especially when you run the risk of catching a cold. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this influenza season is one of the worst in years. While the number of people with the flu seems to be decreasing, prevention is still key.
Ramapo’s Center for Health & Counseling Services released information on flu activity on the school’s website stating that although 619 cases have been reported in N.J., there have been none reported on campus from Health Services.
Nurse practitioner and Associate Director of Health Services Debra Lukacsko said that getting the flu vaccine during each flu season is the best way to avoid getting the flu.
“It is a personal decision of each person as to whether or not they receive it… Health Services has been offering the flu vaccine since October. Any currently enrolled student is able to receive the vaccine through Health Services. There is a fee of $25 for the vaccine, and you need to schedule an appointment,” Lukacsko said. “It is not too late to receive the vaccine.”
Junior Alec McAlarnen believes the vaccine is effective.
“I get the vaccination every single year, and it certainly works,” McAlarnen said. “Last year I skipped it and I was the sickest I have ever been. It was miserable. However, other students feel that the flu vaccine may not be necessary.”
According to information on the Health Services page of the Ramapo website, “basic good health habits are essential. These include covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, throw the tissue away after you use it, wash your hands often with soap and water especially after you cough or sneeze. If you are not near a bathroom and cannot wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer, stay away from people who are sick and if you get the flu, stay home.”
Despite the CDC’s warning, junior Eric Vitale said he isn’t concerned about the flu and said he doesn’t want the vaccine.
“I’m not really worried about getting the flu,” he said. “It’s been years since I’ve gotten it. My parents think [the vaccine] is the devil; they think it will create worse things.”
Other than getting a vaccination to ward off the flu, Lukacsko says to be mindful of your health and diet.
Junior Jessica Kluge is experiencing both cold- and flu- like symptoms, so she is taking over-the-counter medications.
“I took Dayquil and Sudafed until I started feeling better, but it hasn’t kicked it entirely, but I haven’t been to Health Services because I don’t think they are really helpful,” Kluge said.
Kluge hasn’t gotten the flu shot because it only protects against one strand of influenza every season. Still battling her symptoms, her responsibilities on campus have been hard to cope with.
“I missed only my Tuesday class luckily; it was really bad on Tuesday and Wednesday,” Kluge added. “Being sick made me really lethargic, so I still have a ton of work to do.”
Diet can come into play if you are not getting essential vitamins, but Lukacsko said that if you are maintaining a healthy diet, it isn’t necessary to take additional vitamin supplements.
“I’ve been drinking a lot of orange juice and taking vitamin C and D, simple stuff,” sophomore Mary DiPasquale said, adding that she has not yet been sick this flu season.
“Equally as important is getting the proper amount of sleep each night,” Lukacsko said. “This would be typically eight to 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.”
Yet like most Ramapo students, DiPasquale falls short of that requirement, only getting an average of seven hours of restful sleep each night.
According to the Ramapo website, to know if you have contracted the flu keep an eye out for these symptoms:
- Fever (usually high)
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Body aches
- Diarrhea and vomiting (more common in children)
So what can you do if you happen to get the flu? Lukacsko reminded students that it is not the end of the world.
“Rest, make sure you are getting food and fluids, and just hang in there,” she said. “Stay in your residence or stay home. Do not come to campus and spread it to other people. Treat the symptoms with rest, fluids and fever medications. The majority of flu cases do not require that you see a medical provider, but if your fever is very high and not going down after taking fluids and fever reducing medications, if you are unable to keep fluids or food down, if you have a chronic medical condition such as diabetes, or if you are pregnant, you should seek medical care.”
Appointments for the flu vaccine can be made by calling Health Services at (201) 684-7536.