Flu season is just around the corner and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is urging college students to get vaccinated as soon as possible to prevent chances of getting sick.

Last year’s flu season was deadly.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported more than 80,000 deaths in the U.S. during the 2017-2018 flu season.

A microbiologist conducts disease surveillance at state health laboratory. (Courtesy of the California Department of Health)

According to CDPH, until the season progresses, it is nearly impossible to predict how many people will become ill this year and how it will compare to the past.

However, many students are already noticing the spread of germs on campus and a strong decline in class attendance.

“I’ve seen people sniffling, blowing in tissues and coughing everywhere, saying they’re sick,” said Salvador Meza, a third-year biochemistry student.

Cambria Pinal, a third-year political science and chemistry student, said she also noticed many absences in class, but hasn’t seen anyone physically come to class sick yet.

“I know that there have been more people missing in our classes because people are sick or not feeling well,” Pinal said.

The CDPH recommends that everyone get vaccinated to reduce risk to one’s self and others.

It is important that college students are well prepared by receiving their immunizations before flu season officially hits, since they are at high risk of getting and spreading the flu.

“Influenza (flu) is quite contagious, especially in settings like colleges, where many people interact closely with each other in classrooms, living quarters or social settings,” CDPH said in an email.

Students can get vaccinated for free at Student Health and Wellness Services in Building 46. (Courtesy of the California Department of Health)

Along with getting vaccinated, CDPH suggests that students wash their hands with soap and water often and avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth.

However, there is another factor that students believe increases their chances of getting sick – stress.

“Once you’re super stressed, your immune system just dies and then you get sick quicker,” Meza said. “I think they correlate even though it’s not scientifically proven.”

Pinal also mentioned the effect stress has on the body.

“There’s a correlation between stress and not getting enough sleep and your immune system. I know I’m always sicker during finals,” she said.

Student Health & Wellness Services in Building 46 offers free flu shots for CPP students. Carla Jackson, a health educator, recommended getting vaccinated as early as possible, since it takes two weeks for the body to build immunity to viruses.

She also said students reduce their chances of catching the flu through healthy eating and getting enough sleep and exercise.

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