Junior year at UCSB. Another year attending the best university in the country. Another year catching the flu Winter Quarter.

It creeps in ever so slightly, infecting entire houses at a time. Before you know it, you’re forced to live like a hermit for a week. So why is it that every year, you refuse to get the flu shot? The vaccine’s lack of effectiveness, combined with sheer and utter stubbornness definitely contributed to me catching the disease, three years running. Next year – so help me – I’m going to listen to Mom when she tells me, “Get a flu shot!”

The flu, referred to in the science world as influenza, is actually from the Italian influenza meaning, “influence.” The term is without a doubt accurate, as this virus is guilty of influencing just about everything you do for no less than a week. This year, I was blessed with some of my favorite symptoms – fiery aches and pains shooting up my entire body, a 100 degree fever for five days and my all time favorite: The horrendous, gurgling cough, able to make my insides bubble up in a mucus soup. I’m sure hundreds of students can relate with me when I say: I felt like shit.

As a victim of the flu for the third year in a row, I have learned the best thing to do once infected is to stay away from everyone you care about. Don’t kid yourself – they will catch it. You are a harbor for a nasty RNA virus, a microscopic moocher. All it takes for your housemate to catch the plague is a couple nights of poor sleep and wham-o – infected. Do the world a favor and quarantine yourself.

Am I innocent of harboring microscopic terrorists? Of course not. That’s why everyone here at UCSB should intervene preemptively and force themselves and their friends to get a vaccination. Sounds easy enough. Oh, that’s right: We don’t really have an effective way to fight this year’s flu. According to a report done by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 40 percent of those who were vaccinated for this year’s flu were protected from the deranged disease.

Consequently for next year, I am now willing to try anything to NOT catch the flu. I’ve contemplated snorting Emergen-C every morning. Instead of seasoning my daily stir-fry dinner with spices, I think I’m going to try grinding up Echinacea pills to add flavor. I’m not going to feel guilty when I buy a $4.95 Blenders in the Grass drink everyday with four extra supplements.

To my knowledge, most students are simply unfamiliar with how dangerous the flu can be and how to protect themselves from it. Therefore, here is my advice for students next year. As soon as winter quarter begins, get in the habit of locking yourself in your room. If you don’t interact with anyone else, you will greatly reduce your chances of catching it. Secondly, we all know abstinence does not work… but maybe for a few months, we should actually try and not touch each other. I’ve known way too many people who have come down with the illness through fornication. Thirdly – and in my opinion, the most effective way to not get sick next year – wear white, biochemical-resistant suits. I know someone at JPL who could hook it up, but it’s going to cost you.

Moral of the story: Mom was right… as usual. Even though the vaccine this year has only helped 40 percent of people vaccinated, that’s 40 percent better than my current statistic – I 100 percent caught the flu. In all seriousness, we all have to understand our lifestyle here at UCSB – the way we conduct ourselves on a daily basis – makes us more susceptible to contracting influenza. So let’s take an active stance against the flu next year and not infect everyone we know. Please, I don’t think I can take it anymore.