Fall has arrived and so has flu season. It’s that time of the year where it’s important for students, faculty and staff to wash their hands as not to spread diseases that could cause outbreaks. UT’s colleges and departments could assist in this by installing more hand sanitizer dispensers around campus and restocking those already in place.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists handwashing and using alcohol-based hand sanitizer as the most effective ways to kill germs. “Influenza cases frequently increase in October and usually peak between December and February,” said Sherry Bell, University Health Services, or UHS, consumer education and outreach coordinator.
In the weeks following Sept. 10, there have been three cases of the flu and 43 flu-like illnesses confirmed at UHS. Students, faculty and staff get sick and have to potentially miss out on school or work. Speaking from experience, I know what it’s like to be sick with a contagious disease. Last spring semester, I got a severe case of tonsillitis and had to miss several days of classes while suffering from chills and bodily aches and inability to eat and swallow. Catching up afterward was extremely difficult and not something anyone should go through.
As UHS continues their Flu Shot Campaign, it’s vital that students not only get their flu shot to prevent themselves and others becoming ill, but also use the hand sanitizer dispensers around campus. However, it’s difficult to do this when the dispensers are empty. In Parlin Hall, for example, there are several dispensers in hallways, classrooms and entryways, but since classes have started they’ve been empty.
Dennis Nolan, assistant director of biological and lab safety said it is up to the individual colleges and departments to maintain and install hand sanitizer dispensers. So it’s vital that each college and department takes responsibility to restock those empty dispensers and have more accessible dispensers. This would minimize the risk of people passing on germs from high-contact surfaces they’ve touched. Students can also take this into their own hands by raising the concern for the dispensers to be refilled and installed where it’s needed.
In a university where there’s about 51,000 students and about 3,000 teaching staff, someone will get sick, and the fewer dispensers there are, the more likely it will be for people to spread diseases. So as the coming months approach, bringing the peak times for flu outbreaks, it’s vital that students wash their hands regularly and also use what hand sanitizer dispensers are around them to avoid getting sick.
I hope to see UT’s colleges and departments coming together to work on installing more hand sanitizer dispensers, but until then, Bell recommended that people keep a small, refillable container of hand sanitizer to use when needed. Let’s keep our hands clean and stay healthy out there.
Rose is a English sophomore from The Woodlands. He is a columnist. Follow him on Twitter @jeffsroses.