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Healthy habits can help in avoiding flu

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The flu vaccine is one way to avoid getting the flu.

The flu vaccine is one way to avoid getting the flu.

Courtesy Photo

Courtesy Photo

The flu vaccine is one way to avoid getting the flu.

Damon Hickman, Staff Writer

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It’s that time of the year again, where the excitement of the holidays is long gone and the inevitable fear of contracting the seasonal flu is upon us.

Preparing for the Influenza virus, which generally peaks in January or February, but sometimes as late as March, can prove to be beneficial, and well worth the little effort it requires.

Despite the variety of strains of the virus, there are basic precautions we can all take in an effort to reduce our chances of coming down with the flu.

For starters, handwashing is a must. The restroom is a place sick and healthy people alike will be visiting, so ridding your hands of any present bacteria is a great start to staying healthy.

Megan Wheeler, 22, a pharmacy tech major, stressed the importance of handwashing.

“Especially at school and work, I make sure to always wash my hands,” Wheeler said.

Hand washing in conjunction with covering your coughs and sneezes is a proven method of avoiding not only getting sick, yet spreading sickness, said Cosumnes River College Head Nurse Michelle Barkley.

Another necessity is a well-rounded wardrobe fit for any weather in this unpredictable season.

Whether rain, sunshine or somewhere in between, being appropriately protected from the elements is essential for good health.

However, in the eyes of an expert, a good winter coat and good hygiene are not the only recommended precautions for staying healthy this flu season.

“The number one way [to avoid the flu] is to get vaccinated,” Barkley said.

There are many local spots offering flu vaccinations, most with affordable or reduced prices.

Walgreens is offering flu shots for around $30, while MDSTAT Urgent Care is offering them for significantly less, around $10. These are just two of the many locations offering vaccines.

A simple phone call to any clinic or pharmacy will let you know at what cost flu vaccines are offered. But for those with health coverage, most health-care providers offer flu vaccines at no cost.

Another tip for staying healthy? Don’t be afraid to miss a day of class. One sick day may be the difference between a speedy recovery and more missed class time.

“Missing one day is much better than missing five days,” Barkley said. “Your GPA is not going to fall off the cliff if you miss one day.”

So it appears that good hygiene, a warm winter coat, a flu shot and taking care of yourself before you’re at your worst is all it takes to make sure your chances of getting sick are at their lowest.

“The flu virus is so strong,” Barkley said. “You get a cough, you get congestion, you get a fever and body aches. If you don’t take care of those symptoms early on, you’re going to be wiped out even longer.”

So cover that cough, get a vaccination and don’t be afraid to miss a day of class– your health (and grades) may depend on it.

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