Samantha Corneau / Staff Photographer

Lisa Belanger, Director of Health Services

Ken has the flu. Poor Ken. He’s feeling nasty and pretty wiped-out with fever, body aches, sore throat, runny nose, cough and headache which are the most common symptoms. He had thought about getting a flu shot but because he had never gotten one in the past and never got the flu. He assumed he was somehow immune.

Influenza is now reported to be widespread in Maine. Because scientists have to predict months in advance what strains of flu will be circulating, the flu shot doesn’t protect against all strains. However, research suggests that those who get a shot and still contract the flu experience milder and shorter symptoms. The vaccine was 48 percent effective in 2016-17 and 59 percent effective in 2015-16, according to the federal CDC. It’s not yet known how effective the vaccine is for this season since it has not yet ended.

If you have the flu:

  • Stay home or in your dorm room if you are sick, until you are fever-free for a full 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medicine.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or into a tissue. Throw the tissue away.
  • Although most people can stay home to recover without seeing a health care provider, it is possible for healthy people to develop severe illness from the flu. Anyone with the flu should seek medical attention for:
    • Dehydration
    • Trouble breathing
    • Getting better, then suddenly getting a lot worse
    • Any major change in condition

Use of prescribed antiviral medications such as Tamiflu within the first two days of illness is an option for students deemed at higher risk of complications, such as those with chronic health conditions. The medication is not a cure but may shorten the time you are sick by one to two days. In general, taking Tamiflu as a preventive measure after exposure to someone who has the flu is not typically recommended but each case would be handled individually.

At USM Health & Counseling Services, we would be happy to see students needing medical attention during our regular business hours at our Gorham location at 156 Upton Hall.  

We also still have a limited supply of flu vaccine available for those who have not yet been vaccinated.  

Don’t delay, call us today at 780-5411 to make an appointment…and give Ken best wishes on his path back to wellness when you see him.


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