Last Monday, my first-year interest group listed off the best and worst parts of our weekends. Many of us smiled as we recounted the football victory that championed the phrase, “Texas is back!” At the same time, many of us stifled a cough as we remembered coming down with some nasty symptoms.
Often it’s hard to pin down the details: You don’t recall when your throat started feeling funny or when you first felt the fever chills. You follow the doctor’s orders to get enough sleep and drink some tea, and hope that’s all you need to do to stay healthy. Unfortunately, it isn’t. During recovery, students need to keep their flu to themselves.
Students can start combating the flu before they even get it. It is certainly a good idea to go get your flu shot. University Health Services has been setting up clinics at various locations on campus to help our student body take care of itself. Everyone can suffer if even one student doesn’t actively make the appropriate decisions for their health.
Students can take other measures to avoid spreading the flu as well, most notably by not spreading viruses through contact. Regardless of how much medicine we take, it’s wise to keep your hands away from your eyes and mouth, stay hydrated, cough into your elbow and stay away from other people if you catch the flu — even if this means missing class.
Sherry Bell, the consumer education and outreach coordinator for University Health Services, said while it is understandable for students to feel like they need to stay on top of their schoolwork and course load, in reality, students are better off resting up and recovering faster.
Don’t get it wrong; it’s not that our professors don’t want us in class. The problem is that coming to class when you’re sick means the recovery process is hindered and other people will be exposed to the possibility of falling sick. There is a reason these are called communicable diseases. If they were just an individual struggle, flu epidemics wouldn’t exist.
“Take care of yourself regularly and prioritize the necessities, like going to bed,” said Michelle Habeck, associate professor at the College of Fine Arts. “And if you’re sick, stay there. Please don’t come to class if you’re sick.”
Preventing your flu from spreading is obviously preferred, but it is also inevitable that some professors will not accommodate to sickness-related absences. If this is the case and you have to get out of bed, be sure to do so in a way that is safe. UHS has advised students to review flu season guidelines as they traverse campus and come in contact with people who are infected.
“If you have to go to your classes while you’re sick, please respect others,” Bell said. “Sneezing away from others, washing your hands frequently and avoiding handshakes is the least you can do if you have to get out of bed.”
Health should be everyone’s priority because no one wants to suffer through flu symptoms during midterms or stressful weeks. While curbing this problem by receiving the flu shot is the most efficient and preferred course of action, all students can still fight the flu efficiently. Getting better doesn’t have to be a struggle if you get the rest you need and take time off. At least take the steps to not spread the virus. It’s nice to share, but no one will complain if you keep your germs to yourself.
Ancheta is a business freshman from Houston, TX.