How to protect yourself this flu season

Photo by Nicole O'Brien

Tammy Finlayson, a nurse at the Durham College Health Clinic, sets up a syringe to give a student their flu shot .

At Durham College and UOIT, January means a new year and new semester. It also means a time where almost everyone in your 10 a.m. class is coughing, sneezing or carrying a box of tissues.

“There isn’t a day where we run clinic that we don’t see upwards of 8 to 10 people with flu-like symptoms,” says Tammy Finlayson, a Durham College health clinic nurse.

Canada is currently in the middle of flu season, which usually starts in November and ends in March. 2016 was a doozy for influenza cases. By last December, there were 692 influenza cases reported across Canada, according to the latest Flu Watch Update.

But this isn’t really new to Canadians. The past few years have been a wild ride when it comes to viruses. In 2014, Canadian hospitals were fighting enterovirus in children and staying on top of the spread of Ebola.

As well, by 2015, global health officials found that due to a flu vaccine mismatch, the shot was only 23 per cent effective against that season’s nasty H2N2 virus.

Last year, Canada saw a combination of warm winter and a better-match vaccine. But then another late round of H3N2 found its way to Canadians in mid-February.

So what are the symptoms of the flu?

Here are signs you need to rest instead of heading to your 9 a.m. class, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

  • fever
  • chills
  • muscle aches
  • loss of appetite

Finlayson has tips for students to protect themselves.

  • get your flu shot
  • wash your hands
  • keep a healthy diet and lifestyle

But Rebecca Gilman, a Health Canada department spokesperson, says there is really only one effective method to keep yourself healthy this season.

“Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the flu and its complications,” Gilman says.

The flu vaccine is available to anyone six months of age and older during the fall and winter months. Most walk-in clinics and participating pharmacies in Durham Region provide the flu shot, including the Campus Health Centre.

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Nicole O'Brien is a second year journalist student at Durham College. She enjoys writing about the campus, entertainment and sports for The Chronicle. Her work can also be seen on her entertainment blog, and also on the lifestyle blog Godigio. In her spare time, Nicole enjoys watching movies and listening to music. She hopes to one day work for an entertainment news network on either radio or television.