Staying healthy means staying in school

By Kate Daniel, Eagle Life Editor


The onset of autumn means the leaves are changing from green to fiery red, rusty orange and mustard yellow; the temperature is dropping to a brisk chill; the new school year is underway and students’ health may be deteriorating with the onset of cold and flu viruses.

According to the CDC website, it is nearly impossible to predict how many people will be affected by the flu or other viruses in any given year; however, due to the close quarters of most college campuses, many health care professionals agree that college students are at an increased risk for contracting viruses such as the flu.

According to the FDA website, it is likely that over 135 million doses of the flu vaccine will be produced for use prior to and during this year’s flu season.

Distribution of the 2013-2014 flu vaccine began in August. The FDA also notes that due to advanced technology and research, there are at least two brand new vaccines available this year. One of these new vaccines, called a quadrivalent vaccine, protects against four strains of the virus, two type A and two type B strains, instead of the majority of vaccines which only protect against three strains, two type A and one type B.

Those who have had previous reactions to the flu shot may be advised against getting it again. Individuals with egg allergies had previously been unable to receive vaccinations because most vaccines are made in egg embryos. However, a new vaccine was released this year which does not contain any egg, thus making it possible for yet another segment of the population to be flu-free this season.

“Influenza seasons are unpredictable and can be severe, even deadly,” said Karen Midthun, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, in an article titled “Consumer Updates,” on the FDA website. “Last year’s influenza season brought an increase in reported hospitalizations and deaths, compared to recent years, and vaccination is the best defense to prevent influenza.”

Laurie Hays, program coordinator at Student Health, Wellness and Prevention Services, said that flu shots are available for no additional cost to EWU students who have paid their student health services fee. Flu shots and other clinic services are available to students at the Cheney Rockwood Clinic.

Hays said that she strongly encourages students who are sick to “self-isolate,” which entails staying at least 4 feet away from other people while they are contagious.

“We ask that our students stay home instead of working and we’ve been known to send them home if they are sick, and we encourage everyone to get a flu shot,” she said.

Eric, a pharmacist at the Grand Blvd. Walgreen’s pharmacy in Spokane who requested his last name be omitted, said he agreed that vaccinations, proper hygiene and self-isolation are essential to preventing the spread of illness.

“If you’re sick with the flu, stay home; otherwise, if you are around people that seem to be sick, good hygiene and washing is probably the most important thing,” he said.

Eric explained that there are two ways of obtaining a flu vaccination. There is the most commonly known injection, which contains a dead version of the virus, and the nasal spray which contains a live virus. According to Eric, the nasal spray vaccination is only recommended for people who are up to 49 years of age and in good health.

Some students may seek an alternative to the flu shot and other conventional medicinal treatments. Shelly Walker, family herbalist and natural health consultant at Pilgrim’s Nutrition in Coeur d’ Alene, says that proper application and dosage of certain herbs and oils such as lavender, eucalyptus and cedarwood, along with hygienic practices, may help prevent the spread of illness.

According to Walker, elderberry and milk thistle may also help to prevent illness.

“Elderberry extract works by providing a protein coat over cells that inhibit viruses from replicating. Take one tablespoon in the morning and at bedtime, because it has a great potential to protect against many pathogens and flu viruses,” she said.

In addition, Walker advised that students keep their bedding and sleeping area clean, remove their shoes at the door of their homes and put on slippers to wear throughout the house because bacteria, germs and viruses can easily be transferred on footwear.

For more information about health services offered on campus, visit

-Get a flu shot

-Always use proper hygiene to reduce the spread of germs

-Elderberry extract and milk thistle are natural remedies to prevent illness

-Keep your sleeping area clean

-Remove your shoes when you get home and switch to slippers to help prevent the spread of germs through footwear

-If you are feeling sick, stay at least 4 feet away from others

-Stay home if you have the flu

-If you are feeling sick schedule a visit to the Cheney Rockwood Clinic, students can also receive a free flu shot here

-Appointments can be made by calling 509-235-6151