Shaded map of the U.S. showing states that have moderate, low or minimal flu virus spread; this year's flu season has hit younger and middle-aged adults harder than in past years. MCT 2014
Shaded map of the U.S. showing states that have moderate, low or minimal flu virus spread; this year’s flu season has hit younger and middle-aged adults harder than in past years. (Graphic by: MCT 2014)
 

The Weber State University Student Health Center ordered 900 vaccines to be administered to students and has about 250 left.

“We hope to use them all by break,” said Colette Cooper, an office specialist in the health center. In the first week 180 shots were given, but the number of students receiving shots has been decreasing.

The flu is a virus-based respiratory illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Virus-based illnesses do not respond to antibiotics, so the best way to deal with the flu is to prevent it, and the CDC says the best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each year.

The flu shots offered in the Student Health Center are free for students. They have already been paid for with student fees.

One case of the flu since September has been serious enough to hospitalize the person who had it. Last year’s flu season, from Sept. 29, 2013 to May 17, 2014,  there were 833 hospitalized cases of the flu in the state of Utah. Of those, 75 were in Weber County, according to Lori Buttars of the Weber-Morgan Health Department.

The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months receive a flu vaccine, but not all students intend to follow that recommendation.

WSU student Russell Knight said he planned to do what he does every year.

“I’ve never got a flu shot,” he said. “If you’re going to get sick, you’re going to get sick.”

Buttars says even if students get sick, the flu shot helps.

“No vaccine is 100-percent effective, but the symptoms will be milder and you’ll be able to get back to life quicker,” Buttars said.

Besides getting a flu shot, the following are ways to help keep you and others healthy, according to Weber-Morgan Health Department and the CDC:

— Wash or sanitize your hands regularly.

— Cover your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze.

— If you get sick, stay home.

The flu vaccine takes two weeks to become effective, Cooper said.

According to the CDC, people may be contagious one day before symptoms start and five to seven days after getting sick. For people with weaker immune systems the time is even longer.

People with egg allergies are not able to get the flu vaccine, but a nasal spray/mist is available, Cooper said. For women who are or could become pregnant the center advises that they check with their obstetrician.

The health center’s website advises people with the flu to contact their doctor if their temperature exceeds 101 degrees.

If you can’t afford to miss class, the WSU Student Health Center can prescribe Tamiflu to treat flu symptoms, but Tamiflu costs $110 to $120, while the shot is free.

The CDC advises getting a flu shot by October, but it’s not too late. A flu shot at any time can still protect students during the peak of flu season in January.

Weber State has health centers at its Davis and Weber campuses. More information concerning the flu, other sicknesses, general heath information and locations for treatment can be found at www.weber.edu/healthcenter.

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