As it starts to get colder, students at MSU may want to stock up on more tissue. It could be a long winter.
Being as most students are under 65, older than 6 months and, on average, not pregnant, the chances of getting a flu shot in the midst of the national flu vaccine shortage are slim. Olin does have the vaccine available but said that only people in the priority groups as defined by the Centers of Disease Control, will be given a shot.
Kathi Braunlich, the communications and planning coordinator for Olin Health Center, said the nationwide shortage means there are more high-risk individuals than there are vaccines.
“If we have some of the vaccine leftover after vaccinating MSU’s high-risk individuals, it will be redistributed to areas that do not have the vaccine available to them,” said Braunlich. “However, if you fall into the high-risk category, you should contact Olin as soon as possible.”
If you notice that the sound of your professor’s voice is replaced with the sound of your fellow classmates blowing their nose and sneezing, take caution . MSU is trying to help battle the flu.
[flu] “Hand washing flyers have been posted throughout campus to help students understand that the best way to help prevent the spread of colds and flu is to wash your hands,” said Braunlich. “Washing your hands with soap and water is key to preventing sickness.”
Representatives from Olin Health Center will be going to dorms, as they do every year, to make students more aware of the flu season. “We will be distributing cold and flu packets to students, which include a wallet-size card of how to identify flu versus cold, Kleenex, cough drops, tea bags, antibacterial hand gel and chicken soup.” Olin Health Center, Healthy U and the RHA are all involved in this project to raise awareness and keep students healthy.
Symptoms of the flu bug include sudden headache, dry cough, chills, body aches and fever (from 101 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit). After the fever has passed, usually in 2 to 3 days, nasal congestion and sore throat may take its place. Usually the flu lasts about five days, but some symptoms, such as fatigue and cough, might stick with you for a couple weeks.
If you think you may have the cold or flu, prevent spreading the sickness by keeping away from others and resting as much as possible. “Drinking lots of fluids helps keep down the mucus build-up and an increase in humidity helps respiration,” Braunlich said. “Also, try taking medicine with ibuprofen for fever and body aches and decongestants help the stuffiness while hard candies help a sore throat.” Since antibiotics do not help a cold or flu, a trip to Olin or any health care facility for medicine will unfortunately not cure you, nor will it ease your pains.
Most of the time the flu and colds just run their course with or without medical care; however, if symptoms worsen, you should seek medical help. For example, when you have a fever higher than 101 degrees for more than 3 days, severe pains of the chest, heart, stomach, ears or neck glands, or have a shortness of breath, you should seek medical attention immediately.
And if you think the recommended pokes and prods you got before coming to MSU will help, they won’t. Shots for varicella, meningococcus, tetanus/diphtheria just protect you from those specific illnesses.
Freshman Pat Stone was lucky enough to get a flu shot before the shortage had its effect. He said that he does not think he will catch the flu this season. But, like many students, sophomore Lakesha Wilson was unaware of the vaccine shortage.
“I’m hoping for the best,” said Wilson.

For more information about the flu, visit Olin’s website at www.olin.msu.edu .

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