With increases in influenza cases in San Antonio and across the United States, Trinity has seen a similar trend taking place. According to Walgreen’s weekly flu index, San Antonio is among the top 10 cities in the United States for the flu.
According to the index, and studies from various sources, the CDC included, this season has been particularly worse than previous ones.
According to the CDC, the flu season’s vaccine “will protect against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the season. This includes an influenza A-H1N1 virus, an influenza A-H3N2 virus, and one or two influenza B viruses, depending on the flu vaccine.”
Jackie Bevilacqua, coordinator of Health Services, noted the inefficiency of the year’s flu vaccine.
“One of the problems with the flu vaccine is that it takes months to prepare it, and so they have to try and figure out ahead of time,” Bevilacqua said. “They go to the World Health Organization and cooperate with the Center for Disease Control to figure out what strains they can predict are going to circulate, and the flu vaccine was created for the strains that are actually circulating, but one of them mutated. It is called “˜antigenic drift’; it’s an H3N5 strain of the flu.”
Many students at Trinity have already begun to see the effects of the virus on campus, with individuals already suffering from the side effects of influenza and the common cold.
“A lot of people on campus have been getting throat infections and stuff like that, so it’s all over Trinity,” said Catherine Garza, a sophomore.
The state of Texas is third in the country for high numbers of flu activity, just trailing behind Arkansas and Oklahoma. Health Services has been able to prepare for the season and the potential stream of sick students.
“We have an extra day with Dr. Wilder, which is very helpful. She’s here Monday through Thursday now. It used to be she was here just three days a week, and now she’s here four, which helps a lot because we can get students in to see Dr. Wilder, particularly if their flu just started within the last couple of days,” Bevilacqua said. “Tamiflu can help shorten the length of the disease but also reduce the complications that occur because of the flu.”
According to students there are various precautionary steps to prevent getting the flu. Students can still get vaccinated well into the flu season. Bevilacqua notes that while the vaccine may not be as effective as in past years, it is worth getting, although it can take some time to start working.
Due to the ineffective nature of this season’s vaccine, Bevilacqua also gave tips on how to avoid the flu, from avoiding contact with the sick and getting plenty of rest to drinking plenty of fluids and diligent hand-washing.
“It does take a couple of weeks to make antibodies, though, so it’s not instant. It’s not going to provide protection immediately,” Bevilacqua said. “Even one night without sleeping just kind of kills your immune system and makes you vulnerable to whatever’s going on. So wash your hands, get lots of sleep, drink plenty of fluids.”
Another way to mitigate the flu is to prevent it from spreading around campus and giving it to other students. While many students will attempt to avoid missing classes when possible, Bevilacqua noted that avoiding contact with others when sick is crucial for stopping the spread of influenza.
“If you are sick, don’t go to class. If you have a fever, particularly, don’t go to class. If you wash your hands frequently throughout the day, you’re much less likely to get a cold. With the flu, that organism is actually airborne. So, you can get it from surfaces but mostly it’s airborne,” Bevilacqua said.