Dr. Thevy Chai and Michelle Camarena, lead physician and nursing supervisor respectively, work together at Campus Health on infection control.
This year’s strain is called Influenza A, or H3N2. The current flu vaccinations are not guaranteed to protect against H3N2, but both Chai and Camarena still recommend that everyone get vaccinated.
Vann said that each year’s strain hits different age groups harder than others, and this year people from the ages 25-49 are being more heavily affected.
“This year is a little unusual compared to other years where the differences between age groups was a little more fluid,” she said.
Flu season starts in mid-October and lasts until the end of May, Chai and Camarena said.
The flu is contagious up to 24 hours before you start developing symptoms and continues to be contagious for five to seven days after symptoms start, according to Vann.
“It’s important to know you have it so you can isolate yourself,” she said.
The virus spreads quickly in crowded spaces, such as dorms, classrooms or shopping centers, through contact with infected people’s bodily fluids. Camarena recommends that people try to stay three to six feet away from others in crowded places where people might have the virus.
Vann, Chai and Camarena all recommend that everyone get a flu shot and try to maintain a healthy level of hygiene for the remainder of the flu season.
“The flu can knock you out for a whole week and really affect your studies,” Chai said. “And the easiest thing to do is get a flu vaccine.”
Most pharmacies and primary care physicians offer flu vaccinations, in addition to Campus Health and the Orange County Health Department.
Campus Health has already administered more than 6,000 flu vaccinations to students, faculty and staff, according to Chai and Camarena.
“We’ve already given more flu shots than last year, and we’ve ordered more,” Camarena said.
For those who are sick, UNC offers a program through dining services that allows other students to bring back food to students with the flu. More information about the Flu Buddy Program can be found on the Carolina Dining Services website.