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St. Liam’s administers flu shots

Tori Roeck | Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Receiving a flu shot can reduce the number of student trips to St. Liam’s this flu season, said Ruthann Heberle, assistant director of Medical Outreach Services.

“The flu, even for healthy people, can be a really serious illness,” Heberle said.

For this reason, the University gave out free flu shots to students, faculty and staff yesterday and will continue to do so today from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday from 1 p.m. to 9 pm. in Stepan Center, Heberle said. Individuals must bring a Notre Dame ID and be wearing short sleeves to receive the shot, she said.

Heberle said the University has 6,600 flu shots ready for students, faculty and staff, after administering 6,500 last year.

Those who received flu shots last year are still at risk of contracting influenza and should return for a new vaccine, Heberle said.

“There are different flu viruses that they give the vaccine for each year,” she said. “The one that you got last year may not be effective for the virus that they tested and feel is the most predominant this year.”

Experts expect fewer cases of influenza this year, Heberle said, but students must not rely on that prediction when choosing whether or not to get a flu shot.

“This year, they’re anticipating that it will be a milder flu year,” she said. “However, people still need to be conscientious about getting the flu vaccine if they’re able.”

Heberle said the peak of flu season is between December and April, but she recommends that students receive flu shots before fall break.

“It takes about two weeks for your immunities to build up from the vaccine,” she said. “That’s why we like to give it early.”

But Heberle also said students should be mindful of the flu year round — it can occur at any time of the year.

The flu shot is an important preventative measure for most students, but Heberle said it is not for everyone.

Heberle said those who are immunosuppressed, allergic to eggs, pregnant or have a fever greater than 101 degrees should not receive a flu shot.

Flu shots can also come with minimal side effects, she said.

“Usually it’s just soreness in your arm, if that,” Heberle said. “Maybe some mild, mild symptoms like a little bit of a sore throat or a headache, but usually those subside in a day or two.”

Receiving a flu shot cannot be students’ only method of preventing the flu, she said. Students should wash their hands often, cough in their elbows and stay away from others if sick.

“Be considerate of those that you’re around,” Heberle said. “Just common courtesy kinds of things.”

Sophomore Elizabeth Owers said she chose to receive a flu shot in addition to other preventative measures because the vaccine protected her last year.

“I got one last year, and my roommate got the flu, and I didn’t,” Owers said. “I just don’t have the time to be sick for a week.”

Owers also said that by administering free flu shots, the University is doing its part to reduce cases of influenza on campus.

“If they didn’t offer free flu shots, I feel like a majority of the student body, including myself, wouldn’t go get them,” she said.

If students recognize flu symptoms such as sore throat, cough and fever, Heberle said they should be proactive in their recovery.

“Drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest,” she said. “Just do all the things your mother told you to do.”