The 411 on Flu Prevention


Students are advised to get vaccinated for influenza as soon as the vaccines become available. (Photo Illustration by Lydia Benner/The Observer)


The flu bug is preparing to rear its head in the Big Apple yet again. Though influenza activity commonly peaks between December and February, it is not too early to get your yearly vaccine. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), flu outbreaks can happen as early as October and as late as May.

“Hand washing, hand washing, hand washing,” Kathleen Malara, executive director of Fordham’s health services, said when asked about tips to prevent the flu this season. Frequent hand washing is especially important for those using public transportation. Jason Z. Morris, associate professor of Biology at Fordham College at Lincoln Center elaborated on how the illness is spread, stating, “The virus attaches to the surface of cells in the respiratory tract …[then] they replicate.” The CDC’s “Everyday Preventive Actions That Can Help Fight Germs, Like Flu” flyer said that people with the disease may be able to infect others starting one day before symptoms are physically noticeable, and up to five to seven days after they’ve become ill.

“It’s just the simplest things,” Malara reminded us, that could help prevent influenza, such as sneezing into one’s elbow or a tissue, sleeping regularly and using your own utensils and drinking straws. While the bulletin itself is a subtle warning that we are quickly approaching the time to get our health in check before the fury of winter begins, there are many reasons why you should get your vaccine as early as possible. Shedding some light on the importance of getting your vaccine before the flu bug flies through our halls, Morris mentioned,“If you get vaccinated, your body creates antibodies to fight future instances of the virus. In 1919, the flu killed more people than [combat in] World War I” Morris warned immediately after: “Get vaccinated.”

Malara said that Health Services will provide vaccinations for the 2015-2016 flu season. “Yes,” Malara said, adding that “the flu shot is $30, [and] they need to call and make an appointment—but there’s always availability.”

In addition to the services provided by Fordham, students may also get flu shots at no cost locally with most health insurance cards. By providing your name and health insurance information to a pharmacist at any local CVS near Fordham’s Lowenstein building.

In the case that one does contract the flu, Malara said, “if a person is truly diagnosed with influenza, we can prescribe antivirals.” The scientists behind the pamphlet conclude that we should begin getting vaccinated, preferably in October, soon after the flu vaccine becomes available to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu season. “It doesn’t cure,” Malara said. “[Antivirals only] lessen the symptoms and shorten the time [for recovery], but they won’t necessarily cure it.”

“We will be offering flu clinics,” Malara mentioned. Flu clinic days are available for students to get tested and receive shots for the flu in advance.

Melissa Quiroz from the Health Services office provided the first of several clinic days this semester in the Indoor Plaza on Oct. 15, Fordham’s Health and Wellness Day.

“Certainly they can come in here and we can tell them what to use,” Malara said, in the case of a student beginning to feel sensations akin to the flu.  For updates on future Fordham flu clinic days “keep an eye out on our [Fordham Health Services] website and outside the office on the bulletin board.”