Shots, Prevention Encouraged For Flu Season

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Flu season and shots

Flu season is officially under way in Wisconsin, and members of the university community are encouraged to get vaccinated and practice common sense prevention steps to avoid illness this winter.

Already, more than 4,000 students and 2,800 faculty and staff members have taken advantage of vaccination opportunities. UW-Madison has also launched a Web site, http://www.news.wisc.edu/flu/, to keep campus abreast of the latest news, research and resources on influenza.

"Vaccination and prevention are the most effective measures we can take to keep the campus healthy," says Kathy Poi, director of University Health Services (UHS). "This year, unlike last, we anticipate no shortages of vaccine."

Although the series of on-campus faculty and staff vaccination clinics has ended, it isn't too late to receive a shot. Flu season typically runs from November to March.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to contact their private health care providers for more information about walk-in clinics or appointments. Members of Dean, Physicians Plus, Unity and Group Health Cooperative plans are eligible to receive the vaccination for free at their home clinic. Members are advised to call ahead to check schedules and availability.

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UHS is providing free influenza vaccinations for all UW-Madison students. The shots are given on a walk-in basis - no appointment necessary - at UHS' 1552 University Ave. location, now through the end of the semester. Flu shot hours are 9 a.m.- 4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can cause fever, chills, cough, sore throat, headache and muscle aches. It often means a week or more of missed classes or job time.

Although getting a flu shot is a big step toward an illness-free winter, it doesn't protect against colds or all strains of the flu. From UHS to UW Health physicians to Wisconsin's Department of Health and Family Services to the national Centers for Disease Control, experts agree on the preventative measures listed below.

  • Carry a pack of tissues with you, and cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze.

  • Avoid coughing into your hands. The crook of your elbow will do if you don't have tissues.

  • Cold and flu germs thrive on your hands, where they are easily spread to others. Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based gel, especially after coughing or sneezing. This will help keep those around you from getting sick.

  • Don't skimp on sleep. Your body needs that time to recharge - a regular sleeping pattern can improve your body's effectiveness in resisting germs when they come your way.

  • Other good habits, such as exercising moderately, managing stress, drinking plenty of water and eating good food, will help you stay healthy in the winter and throughout the year.

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