The sounds of sniffling noses and coughing echo throughout the USC campus, signaling the approach of flu season.
Tom Skinner, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the upcoming flu season is unpredictable because it changes from year to year.
“It is too early to tell how severe our flu season is going to be,” Skinner said.
In fact, a reappearance of the swine flu virus has not been ruled out, according to Skinner.
The one vaccine that will be offered by USC this year contains, among others, the H1N1 strain, University Park Health Center Nursing Director Tammie Akiyoshi said.
The flu in general is always a concern, Akiyoshi said, but after last year’s swine flu outbreak, health specialists recommend that all people six months of age or older get vaccinated.
“Vaccination is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself,” Skinner said.
Skinner said students living in dorms are at an increased risk of acquiring influenza type B because of their close proximity to one another. influenza type B is also included in the vaccine offered by the health center this year.
The health center will start offering the flu vaccine for $25 at the beginning of October. It will also have outreach clinics on campus and will sponsor the L.A. County Department of Public Health for a flu shot day in October. The specific dates will be announced at a later date.
Despite this advice, some students don’t see the necessity for vaccinations.
Karen Lu, a sophomore majoring in biological sciences, said she thinks she can deal with the upcoming flu season without any vaccines.
“I have a really strong immune system and I believe I can handle the flu,” Lu said.
Other students, such as Logan Benjamin, a sophomore majoring in music industry, are planning to tackle the issue more aggressively.
Benjamin said she is going to take preventative measures this season, by taking vitamins and trying to maintain a healthy sleep schedule.
Students should cover coughs and sneezes, wash their hands frequently and stay home if they are sick to prevent spreading the virus to others, Akiyoshi said.
For those students with heart, lung or kidney disease, asthma or a weakened immune system, getting vaccinated is especially important, she said.