In what is being labeled by the Center for Disease Control as one of the most severe flu seasons since the swine flu in 2009, there is widespread flu activity being reported across the country, including at the University of Rhode Island.
Dr. Christopher Nasin, the medical director of URI Health Services, describes this flu season as unique. “As soon as we’re back in session, its widespread in the state, across the country and on campus,” Nasin said.
We are currently in the peak of flu season. Typically, the flu season starts as early as October and can continue until May. February is the month where the flu is the most intense. What is different from last season to this season is that, across the country, the number of reported cases is significantly higher than this time last year.
“Every year, it’s widespread in the state of Rhode Island and we see a lot of cases at URI,” Nasin said.
As the flu season is in its peak, Nasin reminds students to pay attention to their health.
“Just to let students know, if they have a temperature and they’re coughing during this time when flu is widespread, it is likely they have the flu,” Nasin said.
Nasin said that Health Services encourages students, staff and faculty that if they believe they have the flu, it is best for them to stay home and get rest.
“It is a very contagious and communicable respiratory disease,” Nasin said.
Due to the length of flu season, Nasin reminds students that it is not too late to get vaccinated. Although URI only holds flu vaccination clinics during the fall semester, the vaccine is still being offered at Health Services for free.
“We are currently opening spots to vaccinate students in our health education department every day in order to encourage high vaccination rates,” Nasin explained.
Upon addressing common misconceptions about the ineffectiveness of the flu vaccine, Nasin explained that the small percentage of people who receive a flu shot but still get the flu will have significantly more mild symptoms and will recover much more quickly in comparison to those who do not get vaccinated.
In preparation for next flu season, Nasin encourages students to get the flu shot prior to the onset of the flu season.
“Every year, it is a unique vaccine. The immunity that you get from the flu vaccination is not long-term immunity,” Nasin said. “Get your flu shot as soon as we offer the clinics around campus. URI Health Services and the Wellness Center from Rhode Island offer many pop-up immunization clinics.”
If you are concerned you may have the flu, or want to receive your flu shot, call Health Services at 401-874-2246 for expert advice or to schedule an appointment.