Some students might think it is too early to begin worrying about the flu, but the earlier a student prepares for flu season the better, at least according to senior biology major and member of the Pre-Medical Club Alex deJesues.
“Get your vaccinations. It’s always a good idea to get vaccinated early, since the stress of finals and midterms really takes a toll on the immune system. So getting your flu shot is a great way to stay prepared,” deJesus said.
Despite the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting that the estimated effectiveness of the 2017-2018 influenze vaccine was 36%, Chief Medical Officer of the Center of Health and Wellness and nurse practitioner Kristen Eineberg, APRN explained that the vaccine is still of some use, “Even if the vaccine doesn’t match the virus, it still provides you with some immunity.”
“There has been a lot of data to show there is decreased morbidity of the flu when you are vaccinated. What I mean is, if you get the vaccine and you still get the flu because the viruses and the vaccine did not match, you are very likely to become less ill from the flu and also your chances of death decrease. So, I highly recommend each student get vaccinated,” Eineberg said.
Eineberg also cautioned that students need to be aware of the symptoms, that even though the flu and common cold share some similar symptoms, they are not the same: “Typically the flu has a fever over a hundred and one degrees, significant body aches, often there is either a cough or a sore throat involved. There is usually not a lot of nasal congestion like there is with a cold and there can sometimes be some Gastrointestinal (GI) complaints like nausea, vomiting diarrhea.”
As the flu is far more debilitating and can be deadly in some circumstances, Eineberg said that it’s important to get an early diagnosis and receive treatment.
“Once you think you have the flu, the best thing to do is make an appointment to come see us or go see your primary care provider. This is because there is antiviral therapy available. It is best to start antiviral therapy within the first forty-eight hours of the onset of the symptoms but it can be given up to seventy-two hours from the onset of the symptoms. In most situations, it will shorten the duration of the flu but it will not cure the flu,” Eineberg said.
Dean of students Gail Zimmerman recommended that should a student require extended time to deal with their flu infection, they should be in communicate their circumstances to their faculty and notify her office.
“Students always be in direct contact with their faculty when missing class due to illness. If the illness is to extend a significant length of time or require that the student leave campus for treatment, they should also notify my office – the Dean of Students. It is always the faculty’s prerogative as to how to make considerations for missed work. This may take into account other considerations such as the pedagogy or class requirements such as participation. Most important if for the student to be in timely communication with the faculty and Dean as needed,” Zimmerman said.
According to an article published in the Keene Sentinel, during the 1918 world-wide Spanish Flu pandemic, in which between 20-40 million people died, in one October alone Keene saw more than one out of every ten of its citizens infected with the flu, with one out of ten of the infected succumbing to the illness. The article reported that more Keene residents died from the flu by 1920 than all of the soldiers from Keene that died in World War I.
Eineberg said that influenza vaccines will be available in the Keene State infirmary soon. They are already available in Convenience, Value and Service (CVS) Pharmacy and many urgent care centers.
Austin Cook can be contacted at