UHS Helps Students Fend Off Flu

As another frigid flu season draws near, University Health Services (UHS) hopes to help students stave off the annual menace.

On Nov. 4, UHS began offering influenza shots to all Harvard affiliates at its Holyoke Center location. This service will continue through mid-January.

A number of students and other Harvard affiliates crowded the fourth floor of UHS yesterday to get their vaccines.

Some were further encouraged by a desire to appease worried parents.

“My mommy told me to do it,” said Ifna H. Ejebe ’07.

Flu shots will also be offered in dining halls beginning on Nov. 12, which will make the shots even more accessible to students.

Students can check the UHS website to find out when the shots will be offered in their Houses and at the Holyoke Center.

UHS Director David S. Rosenthal ’59 said that in recent years, UHS has sought to make the vaccine available to more people on campus.

“We have tried to more widely disseminate the vaccine throughout the community to reduce its morbidity,” he said.

He said that more than 10,000 shots were given last year and that 11,000 are expected this year.

Rosenthal recommends the flu shot to all students, especially those living in campus dormitories.

The vaccine has proven effective, according to Rosenthal.

“National data from the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], Department of National Health and the Surgeon General’s Office reflect the efficacy of flu shots,” he said.

Rosenthal reported no side effects from the shot so far this year and said the chances of moderate or severe reactions to the vaccine are slim.

Those with egg allergies, however, should speak with a doctor before getting the vaccine.

Rosenthal warned students not to take the sickness lightly. He said that influenza is a serious disease and has travelled west from Asia.

“Influenza is a very debilitating illness that can put you out from one week to two weeks,” he said.

The flu is a respiratory disease that can cause fever, cough, sore throat, headache, chills and muscle aches, according to aninformational sheet provided by UHS. It is contagious and is spread through the air.

Rosenthal said that last year’s onset of SARS, a disease which has very similar symptoms to the flu, provided an additional incentive for the flu vaccine.

If a patient were to show flu-like symptoms but had received the vaccine, health officials would be able to rule out the possibility of the flu and act more quickly on other potential diseases.

If SARS does return this year, this distinction will once again be useful, Rosenthal said.