How to avoid getting sick this winter

Megan Stoerman, Editor-In-Chief

With the winter season still upon us for a couple more months, many find themselves looking left and right for ways to avoid getting sick. From getting the flu shot, to using hand sanitizer and taking vitamin C tablets, there are many avenues to explore when it comes to preventing a case of the suds.

When it comes to the flu shot, there are often a bevy of questions such as if it actually prevents the flu, why people think that they get the flu as a result of getting the shot, and where it is available. Due to the fact that influenza is a virus, it is constantly mutating from year to year so it is hard for scientists to pinpoint the exact strain that the virus is going appears as each year. So, each year scientists experiment and make the flu shot to prevent the most common viruses and update it each year based on certain factors. The flu shot that is produced does majorly help in preventing the flu if it predicts the strain correctly. Even if the shot does not prevent the flu that year, it will still lessen symptoms if someone were to get sick and will help them get better sooner.

Sometimes people think that they actually end up getting the flu as a result of getting the flu shot. This is false because the virus that is inside the vaccine is not active and an inactive virus cannot transmit disease. These individuals may just be having side effects from the vaccine. These side effects should subside rather quickly.

Individuals can get the flu shot from many local grocery stores such as Price Chopper, Sam’s Club, and Costco. Pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS also give out the flu shot in addition to doctor’s offices.

Herd immunity is produced when most people in a population get the flu shot. Herd immunity is when a large number of the population is vaccinated and as a result they protect the entire population from the disease. The more people that get the flu shot, the less chance others have of getting the flu. This concept of herd immunity also applies to all disease vaccines such as mumps, measles, pertussis and many more and is crucial when it comes to protecting those that cannot get the flu shot such as the really old and young, many cancer patients, those who are severely immunocompromised, and organ transplant and blood transfusion recipients.

In addition to getting the flu shot, there are many other options to help prevent colds and the flu during the winter and all year round. One popular option is using hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer is a quick and convenient way to put germs at bay and give individuals a peace of mind that they are helping themselves by preventing sickness. Many hand sanitizers even have a pleasant smell. Individuals can also take vitamin C supplements to help boost their immune systems. These little tablets are especially great when a cold is coming on but natural sources of vitamin C are always more nutritious and caution should be taken to make sure that the correct dosage of vitamin C is being consumed when taking a tablet. Some more natural sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and kiwi.

Other options to keep colds and flu at bay are washing your hands, not touching your face especially the T-Zone of your mouth, nose, and eyes. Drinking plenty of water also helps to flush your system and stay hydrated. Exercise is overall known to help the body stay active while reducing diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, while also reducing stress and anxiety. Getting plenty of sleep will also help the body be on alert throughout the day and help it be more prepared to fight off diseases.

When it comes to not getting sick during cold and flu season, getting the flu shot, taking care, and being extra cautious is all that it takes.