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Keeping yourself safe from the flu

by Sarah Morris - Copy Editor
Tue, Feb 6th 2018 10:00 pm

By just the second month of the new year, New York has had almost 12,000 confirmed cases of influenza, setting a record since 2004, according to the New York State Department of Health. 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed an executive order on Thursday, Jan. 25, allowing pharmacists to give the flu vaccine to children aged 2-18, which is causing some controversy, since many believe the flu vaccine should be saved for just the elderly. 

“I’m urging everyone to get vaccinated and take other necessary steps to stop the spread of this virus in New York,” Cuomo said. 

He also wants the Department of Health to help spread awareness of the benefits of getting vaccinated, including sending texts to New York State text line subscribers, reminding them to get the vaccine if they haven’t already. 

“With flu cases reaching epidemic proportions in New York,we must do everything in our power to fight this virus and keep New Yorkers safe,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I urge all New Yorkers to help us combat this quick-spreading strain of flu and make sure they and their loved ones are vaccinated.” 

According to the Democrat & Chronicle, Monroe County, which includes Brockport and Rochester, has had 517 confirmed cases of influenza and five deaths, all 50 years or older, in just the past week. This includes a total death toll of eight people in the county alone.

The College at Brockport’s Hazen Center for Integrated Care sent out a campus-wide email with information regarding the flu and the actions students should take if they think they have flu symptoms.

A section of the email from Chaley Swift, administrative staff assistant to the vice president read, “Individuals with flu symptoms should 

stay at home and avoid contact with others for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone (without using any fever reducing medication). Staying at home means that you should not leave your home except to seek medical care.”

Symptoms of the flu include a fever above 100 degrees, a cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body and headaches, chills, fatigue and nausea. Not everyone with the flu will display each of these signs.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should notify your professors about missing class, avoid contact with others or going out in public, as the flu can be spread by airborne droplets, and contact a medical provider if symptoms do not go away or worsen after 4-7 days.  

Worse symptoms include difficulty breathing, shaking and chills, blue or gray skin color, severe vomiting, lethargy, pain in the chest or abdomen, dizziness and confusion. If you experience these symptoms, then seek medical care immediately.

If you have the flu, the virus can easily be killed by hot water and soap. Wash your hands for 20 seconds and use at least a 60 percent alcohol-based hand sanitizer for when hot water and soap aren’t available. Use a tissue or the inside of your elbow to cough or sneeze, as to avoid spreading influenza through the air. The flu is infectious for up to seven days after symptoms first begin. 

Hazen urges faculty to not send students to the health center for a note regarding missed classes and to allow them an appropriate amount of time to recover from the flu.  

Hazen has run out of flu vaccinations, but you can locate your local health care provider or pharmacy to see if the flu shot is available. You can also find a HealthMap Vaccine Finder at vaccinefinder.org.  

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