Back-to-school season and flu

 

Huron High School students walk to their buses after school on Friday afternoon. The budget calls for eliminating all busing for high school students next fall, but the school board is looking at other alternatives. Jeffrey Smith | For AnnArbor.com

Getting sick is not limited to one group of people only and I’m sure anyone who has attended a history class would know this to be true. To refresh your memory, in the war between Europeans and Native Americans, the former was immune to small pox, and the latter wasn’t, which lead to a catastrophe for the Native people.

Though getting a common cold is not a serious illness comparatively, it still has infuriating traits. People under 18 are the group most affected by flu and the common cold every year.

Statistically speaking, high schoolers are at a very low risk of getting the flu; we shouldn’t be that worried about it, right? and in fact, the ones at the highest percentile of risk are elementary kids. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, elementary school children get six to eight colds each school year, and for high school kids, about half of that. This could be attributed to their smaller physique, easily compromised immune system, and also lack of established hygiene practices. High schoolers, comparatively, have better hygiene practices and also more well adapted immune systems.

Though elementary school children are prone to getting sick more, they are least affected by this academically. Let me explain this further. Elementary kids don’t necessarily have any pressure from school in completing tasks or getting grades. In fact, most elementary schools don’t start grading things until 4th or 5th grade. Unfortunately, this is not the case for high schoolers who could be left to scramble catching up for even missing a day of school. So, this group, even though they are old enough to know flu is contagious, might be ambivalent in taking a day off from school.

So, how can we help them? How can high schoolers protect themselves from fellow students who show up at school irrespective of being sick? How can high schoolers be better prepared to handle the flu if they are infected?

If you ever suspect yourself to be infected with flu, or the common cold, the first thing to do is call your school about a leave of absence. Email teachers and track your classes through Schoology to stay updated. The  presence of technology in classrooms is a true boon to high schoolers.

What if it is absolutely necessary for you to come to school, like for example, you must take the SAT, a final in class, or other important tests, what should you do then? Warning: this might seem silly, funny or even inappropriate to some. Wear a mask! – the one that covers your nose and mouth.

All the masks that surgeons, nurses, and sick people in hospitals wear are not a joke, they are the best method of preventing the spread of germs. If you are feeling nervous to wear these things to school, remember it can be fashionable too! If you’re a fan of K-pop you already know that many people in Korea wear them, and they can come in many different styles. So please save the rest of us and wear one!!

Or better yet, stay precautious and follow the below protocols.

The others are the group who are not affected by the sickness yet and are surrounded by walking zombies who could infect them any second. Precautions to follow would be; number one, get the flu shot. Chose any, do the nasal version or the actual shot.

You might be saying, “Well, when I actually get the shot I end up getting sick right after anyway, so what’s the point.” To explain this, let’s see how flu shots are created and how they actually work. Every year, the CDC – The Center of Disease Control and Prevention, choosing from a large pool of virus, predicts the group that could potentially affect people with influenza that season. Using those selected viruses, the CDC creates a “friendlier”/ diluted version, which is weak enough for your immune system to detect, develop your own antibody, and successfully eradicate. These diluted, inactive versions, of viruses are what you get as a flu shot every year. This causes a very light version of the flu which then your body’s immune system fights and then stores the antibody formula for future reference in its database. This means the next time any of the actual viruses show up in your system, your body will eradicate them before you even notice you’re sick. Even if getting a vaccination is not a foolproof way of preventing ALL flu-related diseases, it rules out the predicted majority on the list.

If you want to understand more about the body’s immune system and how it works watch this video: The Immune System.

Another thing to practice is washing your hands frequently, using mild plain soap. Hand sanitizers and antibacterial hand wash should be avoided since they are heavily linked to the rise of MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) which is a superbug (a bacteria that is resistant to most antibodies). You don’t want to create a monster while trying to avoid one, do you?

Finally, let’s look at our home state compared to others. What percentage of students take a leave of absence from school in Minnesota? The state of Minnesota’s chronic absenteeism rate is only 14%! This means our rate is on the lower, middle spectrum compared to the other states. We must be doing something right, so let’s continue to do that on top of building new preventive practices.

If you want to see the other states chronic absenteeism rate, click on this link!

To find more information about Vaccinations click here!

 

 

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