How to avoid the flu in the city

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By Erin Fishman
Contributing Writer

Cities tend to be somewhat of a petri dish, harboring all sorts of unpleasant bacteria in their crevices. Considering the fact that thousands of Bostonians gather every day in the same train stations and bus terminals, the sheer number of city dwellers finding themselves sick this flu season is hardly shocking.

But fear not; you shouldn’t have to sacrifice riding public transportation in order to stay healthy. Here are some tips for avoiding the flu while living in a city.

Wash, wash, wash your hands
This may seem obvious, but it matters, especially when using public restrooms. The length of time you spend washing your hands makes a difference; in order to kill germs lingering on your skin, wash your hands for 15-20 seconds.

Invest in hand sanitizer
This becomes especially necessary after riding public transportation, as thousands of people, some of them sick, filter in and out of trains and buses all day. Attach a mini bottle to a keychain so you never forget it when you head out.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth in public spaces
These are easy “access points” for bacteria, meaning that the bacteria on your hands is easily transferred in these spots.

Get enough sleep
Sleep can sometimes be an imaginary concept for college students, but the flu is more easily contracted when a person is tired or stressed. Make sure to take plenty of study breaks and aim to get a solid night’s rest if possible.

Take vitamins
It can sometimes be a hassle to remember to take your vitamins, but living in a city makes you more susceptible to the flu and other viruses. Taking vitamin D has been shown to reduce your risk of contracting the flu, so even a glass of orange juice to start your morning can have great effects.

Limit your time on public transportation
Work commute aside, limiting your time on the T as much as possible is another way to stay healthy.

Vaccinate
Boston is full of resources and clinics that can get you vaccinated and ready to combat this flu season. Many clinics offer heavily reduced or even free vaccines with certain types of insurance. Proactivity is best, so get your flu shot as soon as possible.

Although all of these points may seem obvious, they’re important to reiterate. Sometimes, our day-to-day lives can prevent us from taking care of ourselves, but having a productive school year depends entirely on your health! Take extra precautions in order to stay healthy this flu season.

You can still get a free flu shot in the Fens next Thursday, Oct. 29 from 3:30 – 6:00 p.m.!