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Hall Health prepares for growing flu epidemic

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Photo Illustration Photo by Joshua Bessex

As the flu epidemic spreads across the Northwest, more and more UW students are flocking to Hall Health.

So much so, that Hall Heath has run out of the vaccine twice in the past week. Karen Beck, health services manager at Hall Health, said they quickly received new shipments and restocked within a few hours.

“We are seeing the flu across Washington state right now and we have had six deaths confirmed by a lab as being related to flu,” said Tim Church, director of communications in the Washington State Department of Health. “[This is happening] a little earlier than we usually see it.” 

The flu season in the United States typically increases around February or March according to trends by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

“The common symptoms are the same this year as last year,” said David Dugdale, medical director of Hall Health. “Usually [the symptoms] come on pretty quickly over the course of a couple hours.”

Sore throat, cough, runny nose, extreme fatigue, fever, and muscle sores are all common symptoms. 

Church said there are a few preventative measures beyond the vaccine. If discovered early on, he said anti-viral medication from the doctor could lessen the severity of the flu. If contracted, it is important to avoid dehydration. The vaccine, however, remains the best option.

“The single most effective way to prevent the flu is get a flu shot,” Dugdale said. 

Students can get the influenza vaccine in Hall Health, available on a walk-in basis. The cost for current students is $25, or can be billed to insurance. 

Church said it takes a couple of weeks for the flu shot to become effective. The CDC has found that approximately 91 percent of the season’s reported illnesses were similar to the viruses incorporated into this year’s flu vaccination.

Additional prevention methods include washing hands frequently and avoiding touching the face. Dugdale also suggests wearing a mask, especially if the sick person has a cough. 

“The flu can be deadly,” Church said. “[People should] absolutely take the flu seriously, but there are levels of it. For example, one thing we highly recommend to students is if you have a fever, don’t go to class, because it is bad for you and you will be spreading it to those around you.”   

Reach reporter Laurel Rice at news@dailyuw.com. Twitter @laurelwrice

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