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As the holiday season and winter break approaches, Rutgers reminds students to also take care of their health and get vaccinations for the upcoming flu season.
In an email to the Rutgers community, Chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) Brian L. Strom said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) designated this week as "National Influenza Vaccination Week."
The CDC estimated that the flu caused 48.8 million illnesses, 959,000 hospitalizations and 79,400 deaths during last year’s peak season.
To most effectively prevent the flu and decrease its symptoms and spread, Strom encouraged students to receive vaccinations. He said since the immunity took two weeks to take effect, students should get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“As an epidemiologist, teacher, clinician and former professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, I strongly encourage you to get the flu vaccine,” he said in the email.
In order to make the flu vaccine more accessible, Strom said the University is making it available to employees, faculty and staff on most campuses. RBHS employees can walk in to the Employee Health Clinic on Busch campus at the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, or call the Occupational Health Department for an appointment.
Rutgers also has annual flu clinics for students and staff. According to Rutgers Student Health, the next clinics are open at the start of the Spring 2019 Semester on Jan. 29 at the Livingston Student Center and Sojourner Truth Apartments.
Throughout this fall, the clinics have been open at various times as well. Students need to bring their Rutgers IDs and insurance cards.
Strom outlined possible symptoms of the flu and ways for the Rutgers community to stop the infection from spreading. Some symptoms to look out for include coughing, a sore throat, headaches or fatigue, according to the email.
Ways to prevent spreading include covering coughs and sneezes with tissues, washing hands frequently and avoiding contact with sick people, he said.
“People who receive (the) flu vaccine, who also contract the flu, tend to experience milder symptoms and be less contagious,” he said. “Many people mistakenly believe they are too healthy to get the flu or are too busy to heed its warning signs.”
For those experiencing symptoms of the flu, Strom said people should call their primary care’s office to get the best treatment options. He also encouraged those in the Rutgers community to stay home if they are sick.
“I wish everyone in the Rutgers community a happy and safe holiday season and a healthy 2019,” he said.