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As the temperatures drop, the leaves fall and the autumn chill sets in, students are beginning to feel the symptoms of cold and flu season.

Beginning on Monday, Oct. 17, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, the 2011-2012 flu vaccine will be offered to protect students, faculty and staff from three common influenza viruses. Flu shots for students will cost $10.

The flu clinics will continue throughout the week on Tuesday, Oct. 18, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Scott Hall lounge, Wednesday, Oct. 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Reeve Memorial Union and again on Tuesday, Oct. 25, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Reeve Memorial Union.

“Vaccines are the best tool we have to prevent influenza,” Director of the Student Health Center Pamela MacWilliams said. “Everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated against the flu as soon as the vaccine is available. The vaccine will cover you through the influenza season, which typically peaks in February.”

The student-offered flu clinics come just after UW Oshkosh’s own faculty and staff took their turn. In total this year, 250 vaccinations have already been given to faculty and staff, up from about 50 last year, MacWilliams said.

Influenza is a respiratory illness with symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, headaches, body-aches, stuffy nose and fatigue. The flu usually comes on suddenly and people will usually recover in less than two weeks. But in some cases people can develop complications, such as pneumonia, which can be life-threatening.

“Hand hygiene is the number one way to prevent the spread of infections,” MacWilliams said. “It only takes 15 seconds of using either soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub, to kill the germs that cause infection.”

This year’s flu vaccine will protect against what research shows will be the most common viruses during the season. The three most common for 2011-2012 have been identified as influenza A-H1N1, influenza A-H3N2 and influenza B virus.

Not only will the flu clinics provide a convenient and low-priced option for flu shots, but there will also be information provided by the Great Lakes Chapter of the American Association of Men in Nursing focusing on men’s health.

There will also be a special guest at the on-campus clinics.

“To ease the stress of vaccination, Lilly will be offering her paws for support,” MacWilliams said. “Lilly is a West Highland White-Terrier dog and a graduate of Therapy Dogs Incorporated. The students have really enjoyed her presence at our other flu clinics.”

MacWilliams’ biggest advice for eliminating the spread of sickness is the tried and true “cover your mouth when you cough.” Also, shielding others from sneezes and avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth frequently can help in staying healthy. Mac Williams also suggests keeping other immunizations up to date.

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