Michaela Lumpert, Campus Carrier news editor
“Flu season” is a phrase that has become normal on college campuses. In Georgia, the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) has recorded 16 flu cases so far. But as the season progresses, they expect this number to grow.
However planning for the flu becomes harder each year. The World Health Organization (WHO) explained that vaccines are made to target about three to four different strains of the virus. Each year, WHO states that it gets harder and harder to estimate which virus will be particularly bad that year.
Flu season is unpredictable. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, the flu season is annual, but usually begins in October, peaks between December and February, and ends in May. This year the CDC is working with a new flu surveillance system they are calling “flu forecasting” to predict the severity of the flu season.
“Flu forecasting offers the possibility to look into the future and better plan ahead, potentially reducing the impact of flu and can potentially be used to prepare for and prevent illness, hospitalization, and death, as well as the economic burden, experienced during a flu epidemic,” the CDC website states.
To accurately predict the flu season, the flu forecasting works with the WHO, state health departments and the CDC’s Epidemic Prediction Initiative (EPI) to record data on the flu season. Each week, the EPI reports their findings in a weekly update provided on the CDC website, cdc.gov.
This season, the CDC explained that private manufacturers are estimating that about 162 million to 169 million doses of the vaccine will be available. With each season, the CDC also looks into antiviral resistance.
According to the CDC, “Antiviral resistance means that a virus has changed in such a way that antiviral drugs are less effective or not effective at all in treating or preventing illnesses with that virus.”
Clinics urge students to get their flu shot and practice flu prevention techniques in order to stop the epidemic from sweeping across campuses.
Specifically at Berry, the Health Center is offering free flu shots for any student and a reduced price of $20 for faculty and staff.
The GDPH stated that the best way to stay protected this season is to get a flu shot, but they also recommend completing basic flu prevention practices like washing hands with warm water and soap, avoiding rubbing eyes and nose with hands until they are washed and covering a cough or sneeze with a tissue.
If you feel like you have the flu, stop into your local clinic or urgent care. There are antiviral drugs used to combat the flu, but the best way to fight the flu is to drink plenty of fluids, rest and stay home.