July 20, 2019 | 83° F

Rutgers reminds students to vaccinate amid heaviest influenza season in years

Photo by cdc.gov |

This year’s influenza rates are on pace to surpass the 2014-2015 season when an estimated 34 million Americans contracted the flu. Getting vaccinated and staying hydrated can help prevent premature sickness.  

On Wednesday, Rutgers students received an important reminder that it is not too late to vaccinate against the flu, in light of the the most serious influenza season in years.

New Jersey Principal Deputy Commissioner of Health Jackie Cornell came to the Eric B. Chandler Health Center in New Brunswick to get a flu shot and remind residents that they should do the same, according to a press release from the New Jersey Department of Health

The deputy commissioner spoke with patients and staff of the health center, discussing the importance of getting vaccinated and preventative measures people can take to deter the spread of the virus. Cornell joined Sandra Hill, executive director and CEO of the health center, in spreading the message.

Receiving an annual flu shot is the most effective way to prevent the flu, according to the Rutgers Student Medical Services website. 

“Getting vaccinated is especially important for people who are at high risk for infection, such as students (who live and study in crowded areas), health care workers, those who smoke, those over 50 and children under 2 years of age and those with weakened immune systems,” according to the site.

The flu virus has been notably pervasive this year. The New York Times reported that this season is on pace to equal or surpass the 2014-2015 season in which an estimated 34 million Americans got the flu — more than 700,000 were hospitalized and more than 50,000 died.

In the latest Respiratory Virus Surveillance Report, the New Jersey Department of Health stated that for the week ending on Jan. 27, all regions of the state had high levels of influenza activity. 

The weekly update reported that so far there have been a total of 7,332 confirmed flu cases statewide. Bergen county reported the most with 972 cases, while Middlesex county reported 338 total cases of flu. 

Rutgers Student Medical Services reported that more than 20 percent of students at the University said they have missed assignments and received lower grades due to the flu and flu-like symptoms.

Some steps to prevent the flu include getting vaccinated, staying home if sick, washing hands, staying hydrated, covering up when sneezing or coughing and cleaning recently used items, according to the medical services website. 

Common symptoms include a fever greater than 100 degrees fahrenheit, body aches, chills and other signs similar to a cold. Recommendations on the site include seeking medical attention if the fever persists for more than two to three days, if symptoms persist for more than 10 days, if breathing is difficult and if swallowing fluids is difficult.

Last month The Daily Targum reported that the H3N2 virus is the most prominent cause of influenza cases this year — and is a strain of Influenza A that tends to cause more serious illness.

Services like Rutgers Student Medical Services and the Eric B. Chandler Health Center are available to students and people who want to get their flu shot.

“Our purpose is to improve the health of our community,” according to the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School website. “We have developed partnerships with our customers, who are our patients, our payers, our staff and our community. The diversity of our customers define the terms of our partnership.”

Ryan Stiesi

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