Oct 052006
 
Authors: Hallie Woods The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Flu season is here.

To combat it, Hartshorn Health Service is preparing to give out vaccinations as a precautionary measure to what continues to be a problematic and sometimes dangerous illness.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s Web site, as many as 36,000 Americans die each year and 200,000 are hospitalized due to the common flu.

In the past, the flu was even more fatal than it is today. In the world-wide influenza epidemic of 1918, the virus killed 20 million people and 500,000 American citizens.

The flu is a viral infection that attacks the respiratory system and causes symptoms such as chills, sweats, fever, cough, headaches, muscular aches, fatigue and loss of appetite.

There are three types of the influenza virus: A, B and C. Type A is the cause of deadly epidemics, while B and C generally cause milder cases of the virus.

Type C, the mildest of the three, is the most stable virus, while A and B are constantly changing, causing new epidemics every year. This makes it difficult to develop vaccinations and dangerous for individuals even if they have had the flu in the past.

The flu can especially be a cause of concern for those who are considered high-risk, especially those older than 65, children under 5 and anyone with a chronic illness such as diabetes or asthma, said Lisa Duggan, registered nurse and immunizations coordinator for HHS.

Some students don’t worry about the flu and don’t see a need for the vaccination.

“I hate shots,” said freshman biomedical sciences major Marisa Midyet. “I’ve never gotten the shot and I’ve never gotten the flu.”

Although there are other methods to reduce the risk of illness, such as getting enough sleep, exercise, good hygiene, eating right and drinking water often, a vaccine can be 70 to 90 percent effective in preventing sickness, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Flu season generally starts in October and lasts through March.

Duggan said HHS already has 2,000 flu shots on order.

“This year it looks like we’ll be getting them all,” she said. “For the past two years there has been a shortage so we’ve only been able to do high risk people, but this year we are hoping that everyone who wants a flu shot can get it.”

Flu vaccinations at HHS began Oct. 1 but will be administered only to high-risk individuals until later in the month.

“I fully anticipate that by Oct. 16 that I will be able to open up and advertise to anyone who wants a flu shot,” Duggan said.

Verve editor Hallie Woods can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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Flu shots are $20 for CSU students and $25 for non-students at Hartshorn Health Service. No appointment is needed.

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