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As flu season approaches, University of West Georgia’s Health Services is taking preventative steps in keeping the campus clear of the virus.

October is often seen as the onset of flu season, which lasts through April. The flu, also known as influenza, is an airborne illness transmitted through contact and germs. The outbreaks occur most frequently in the winter months. The flu is highly contagious and can be inhaled through infected air droplets from coughing or sneezing. Symptoms include cold, fever, chills and nausea.

On Thursday, October 11, Health Services held a flu shot drive in the Coliseum Lobby. Students and faculty members were offered the vaccine free of charge. The UWG Nursing Department worked alongside Health Services and administered the shots.

Elizabeth Butts, Health and Wellness Promotions Coordinator, encourages students to get flu shots to avoid the risk of spreading the virus across the school population.

“By offering the flu shot, students reduce their risk greatly for coming down with the flu. When students do contract the flu virus they often are contagious before they realize it and spread the virus in both their academic, residential and social environments.  Of course, the goal of protecting students with the flu shot is to help students stay healthy in order to attend class and be in a state of wellness for optimal academic performance,” said Butts.

According to Dr. Leslie Cottrell, MD., Director of Health Services, the number of estimated influenza cases may increase this season. “The number of students varies based on the virulence of the strain. Last year, we had a very mild flu strain, and UWG did not experience dozens of students every day with influenza. Last year’s situation could mean this year’s flu season could be worse. We haven’t had any active flu in this area, yet.”

Butts also recommends following a healthy regimen of diet, sleep, and exercise to support a strong immune system against the infectious virus. Refraining from exorbitant partying will also regulate the body’s defenses.

“The flu shot will definitely help the body be ready to fight off the expected strain of flu. In addition, students can help prevent contracting the flu. During the flu season it is especially important to wash hands thoroughly or use hand sanitizer and to follow the simple elementary health skill of sneezing or coughing into the bend of the arm rather the hands. Increasing the hours of sleep at night, eating more nutritional choices especially fruits and vegetables, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption or smoking, participating in regular exercise or physical activity all will help improve overall wellbeing while reducing the odds of catching the flu,” said Butts.

Students still have an opportunity to receive the free vaccine. According to Health Services, there will be an announced date and time for those students who were unable to receive the shot on the designated date.

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