Sneezing and sniffling classmates, germy doorknobs, public restrooms—it feels like getting sick is impossible to avoid. Each year, influenza affects the campus community and students miss significant amounts of class time and work. To limit the effects of the flu on the student population, University Health Services (UHS) offers a flu shot, free of charge, to every UW-Madison student through November 20.
Getting a flu shot is the single best way to prevent the flu. Because flu season can begin as early as October—and last until May—it’s best to get vaccinated early. Remember, the protection from the flu shot only lasts six to nine months. More than two thousands students were vaccinated during the first flu shot clinic on September 25.
Students who want to reduce their chance of contracting the flu are encouraged to get vaccinated. Students miss an average of five days of class due to the flu. Receiving an annual flu shot promotes academic success, prevents interruption to course work, and keeps the campus community healthy.
Just because you’re young and healthy doesn’t mean you’re invincible. Even healthy Badgers can get sick. Flu viruses are unpredictable and regardless of age, you can become sick with the flu and develop serious complications. The flu shot not only reduces an individual’s risk of getting the flu, it helps to keep campus healthier as a whole because the virus spreads at a slower rate in highly immunized populations.
The flu vaccine is safe. It contains “dead” virus that is incapable of getting you sick. If you get sick shortly after receiving the shot, it’s likely that you’ve come down with a cold or you were exposed to the flu virus before the vaccine took full effect (it takes about two weeks). This is why UHS encourages you to get your flu shot now—the earlier, the better.
UW-Madison supports the CDC recommendation that individuals older than six months receive an annual flu shot. Students who have chronic health conditions—such as asthma, diabetes, or immune disorders—are strongly encouraged to get an annual flu shot. The vaccine protects against the seasonal flu as well as strains H1N1 and H3N2. Last year, 13,950 UW-Madison students were vaccinated. This year, UHS hopes to vaccinate more than 15,000 students.
The cost of the flu shot is covered by student health fees, and it takes less than 10 minutes to get vaccinated. For students who don’t like shots, the FluMist nasal spray is available for a small fee.
There are several outreach flu shot clinics scheduled across campus in addition to walk-in flu shot clinics at UHS For more information on flu shots, visit uhs.wisc.edu.
Dr. Van Orman is UW-Madison’s Chief Health Officer and the Executive Director of University Health Services. Send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.