ASUU offers free flu shots as part of wellness week

By Michael Olson, Staff Writer

Scott Soper caught the flu just in time for midterms. It started with the sniffles, then came the sore throat and bad cough.

“It was embarrassing to be the guy sniffing during the test,” Soper said. “If any professors found any strange marks on their Blue Books, it is because of my runny nose.”

Health officials at the U say this is the time when students will begin catching the flu, and unfortunately, all at the same time.

Flu, short for influenza, is a viral infection spread by coughing and sneezing.

“The flu virus spreads easier in confined spaces,” said Cindy Powell, a registered nurse at the health center. “It spreads like wildfire in college classes. You get a bunch of people in a classroom breathing the same air.”

Some students are afraid to miss class for fear of missing something vital.

Brett Haslam, a senior in Spanish and international studies, said one of his professors told the students to come even if they are sick. Haslam said he would have come anyway.

“I pay for school so I might as well get my money’s worth,” he said.

Just as students are catching the “sniffles,” the U is offering a way for students to maintain their health.

Flu shots will be available during the Annual Health and Wellness Fair Oct. 29. The fair, run by the Student Health Advisory Committee, is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Union Ballroom.

Free flu shots will also be available Oct. 27 in the main lobby of the Marriott Library from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Oct. 28 in the Heritage Center during the same hours.

The Associated Students of the University of Utah is offering the first 400 shots for free. Otherwise, the shots cost $15 for students and $20 for faculty and staff. Shots will be administered by the schools of Nursing and Pharmacy, as well as nurse practitioners from the Student Health Clinic.

Besides the flu shot, Powell recommends students carry hand sanitizer to keep their hands clean.

College students are very susceptible to catching the flu, said Wayne Askew, director of the U’s Department of Nutrition. People who are under a lot of stress, have a poor diet and don’t get enough sleep each night have a weakened immune system and are more susceptible to catching the flu.

“The best thing that students can do to prevent catching the flu virus is to get an annual flu shot,” Powell said. “It is not 100 percent effective. Those that receive flu shots are a lot less likely to get the flu.”

Flu shots typically take two weeks to take affect.

Powell said people with the flu should take Tylenol, eat nutritious food and dress warmly.

“Basically, do the things your mother told you to do,” she said.

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