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Fighting the Flu

Students should stand up to germs and take advantage of free flu shots

Today marks the second-to-last opportunity for Harvard students, faculty and staff to receive free flu shots from University Health Services (UHS). In the interest of your fellow students, if not yourself, you have a duty to trek over to Eliot House for dinner tonight and get the vaccine. It is an excellent chance to avoid one of the most common sicknesses during the winter months.

The program was extremely successful at limiting the extent of the illness on campus last year. UHS officials say there were significantly fewer complaints of flu-like symptoms last year, at least partly because of these shots. UHS expanded the program significantly last year after an outbreak of the flu in January 1999.

The flu is spread very easily and can sometimes be contracted simply by talking to an infected person. Given that we live in a college environment , there is a high likelihood that one of your fellow students will be infected at some point. And, as we all know, no Harvard undergraduate can afford to get the flu--especially not during finals. In short, it is better to be safe than sorry.

The chances of major negative side effects from the flu vaccine are rare. And even if you do manage to contract the flu after receiving the vaccination, it will likely be a milder case, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of course, the vaccine isn't a perfect safeguard, and students should still rest and maintain healthy lifestyles to avoid the illness.

Shots will be offered tonight during dinner in Eliot House. The last chance to receive the vaccine is Nov. 20, from 11 a.m. to noon in Loker Commons. Students should do their part to keep themselves--and the campus--healthy.

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