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ISSUE 120 VOL 6 PUBLISHED 11/3/2006

Many opt for flu immunizations

By Alyssa Kleven
Contributing Writer

Friday, November 3, 2006

Flu season is upon St. Olaf students and $25 flu shots were available in Buntrock 144 last Tuesday and Wednesday.

An outside company runs the flu shot program on campus, and students were given receipts that they could send to their insurance companies to be reimbursed the $25.

Unlike past years, when flu shots have been scarce and the elderly had priority on the list, this year has not proved so dangerous in terms of running out of the vaccination.

College students have the option of getting them right here on campus, at Cub Foods, Allina Clinic or clinics in students’ home towns.

Although some argue over who needs the flu shot, it is mostly advised that anyone over 50, children six years of age and under and those who work in health care situations are the priority to receive shots.

Influenza, more commonly referred to as the flu, is caused by several types of viruses that are highly contagious.

The virus is spread from person to person when someone coughs or sneezes and droplets with the virus are released into the air. Another person can breathe in these droplets so that the virus lodges itself in the lungs or other breathing passages.

“All you have to do is look around in your classes, in the Caf or any other student gathering and you notice others sneezing and coughing,” Pam Tietz, Registered Nurse, interim director of health services commented.

Cold weather is not a cause of the flu, but the number of flu cases increases significantly in the winter months.

As students approach December, stress and lack of sleep may cause a person’s immune system to weaken.

In addition, during the winter students stay inside more often and, in situations like residence hall rooms, are often very close to other people, allowing the pathogen to spread from person to person easier.

The effects of the flu can gravely affect a student’s schoolwork. Often if the flu is debilitating, students may not feel able or well enough to go to class.

Professors often tell their students to get it checked out with the nurse, and to clear their absence through Kneser so that they can be excused from class.

“"Many students are surprised when I recommend the flu shot,”" Tietz said. “"After all they are healthy and not sick. Prevention is the key to staying healthy both individually and as a community.”"

The shot is not the only way that students can prepare for the flu season.

Doing simple things like washing hands, taking care of yourself and getting enough rest can help prevent flu symptoms.

Symptoms include fever, chills, sore throat, coughing, headache, fatigue and weakness.

Although most of these symptoms subside in several days, complications like pneumonia could result.

The best treatment people can give themselves is bed rest and lots of fluids, although in some cases doctors will prescribe anti-viral drugs.

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