Flu shots prevent winter illness

"We don't get the largest numbers until after Christmas," Brown said.

Influenza, commonly called the flu, is a viral illness of the upper respiratory region. The virus has two strains: Influenza A and Influenza B.

"The A-strain tends to mutate pretty easily," said Diane Walcheske, the clinical nursing supervisor at SHS.

Therefore, scientists must change the variation of the flu vaccine each year, according to Walcheske.

Common symptoms of the flu are fever, sore throat, cough, chills, muscle aches and headaches, Walcheske said.

"The flu is so contagious, it just takes one person in the classroom to cough and everyone's exposed to it," Walcheske said.

"I live in a dorm," freshman emily Weber said. "If one person gets sick, everyone gets it."

SHS offers several accommodations to combat the flu. Some basic preventive guidelines include keeping your hands away from your face, getting plenty of rest, eating right and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing.

"One of the biggest things is to drink tons of fluids," Walcheske said.

Another preventive service is "Shoo the Flu." On Monday, Oct. 27, and Tuesday, Oct. 28, the Visiting Nurse Association of Wisconsin will provide flu and pneumonia vaccines on the first floor of the Alumni Memorial Union from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Flu shots are $18 and pneumonia shots are $25. Appointments are not necessary, Walcheske said.

"The more people who get immunized, the less likely we'll have an epidemic on campus," Walcheske said.

One thing not offered at SHS is Flumist. This new influenza vaccine is inhaled through the nose unlike the vaccine at "Shoo the Floo," which is administered through an injection.

"We don't offer it here because it's a live vaccine," Walcheske said. "It should only be given to certain people who have healthy immune systems."

In addition to this, Walcheske said the vaccine costs $50 to $70 and must be stored in a special freezer storage container, for which SHS does not have room.

SHS is located in the lower level of Schroeder Complex and is open Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students should call ahead for an appointment. The student health fee is automatically attached to undergraduate tuition but graduate students must pay out of their own pockets.