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University offering new vaccine against various influenzas

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The flu vaccine offered by the university this season contains both the seasonal flu vaccine and H1N1 to help prevent swine flu, the university medical director said.

In the past, the vaccination for the seasonal flu and swine flu were separate, said Jane Torgerson, university medical director. But since the outbreak of swine flu in 2009, the new vaccine contains H1N1, influenza A, H3N2, and influenza B viruses.

Last year the university had about 600 students with flu-like illnesses, including H1N1, Torgerson said. So far this year, there had not been any cases of any type of flu illnesses reported to the university or to Tarrant County Public Health.

The university offers prevention opportunities such as pre-flu clinics and free vaccinations, Torgerson said.

So far, about 2,500 students have been vaccinated at the university. The vaccination is a dead virus inactivated, so a person will not get other illnesses from the flu shot, she said.

Torgerson said she encouraged students to come and get their flu shots from the university's health center and that there are still plenty of shots left.

Flu season lasts from late fall to early spring but peaks in January and February, Torgerson said. By receiving the flu shot people have proven it to be the best way to prevent an epidemic, she said.

Other ways to prevent the virus include practicing good hygiene, such as washing hands correctly, coughing in the elbow or using a tissue and throwing it away properly, Torgerson said.

Freshman nursing major Megan Williams said she gets vaccinated each year and has never been diagnosed with the flu. She prevents herself from getting sick by grabbing handles on doors with her sleeves and eating healthful foods to build her immune system.

According to flu.gov, every person 6 months old or older should get vaccinated against the flu as soon as it is available.

Vanessa Joseph, spokesperson for Tarrant County Public Health, said the flu shot should be added to a to-do list before meeting with friends and families for the holiday season. Everyone should get vaccinated each flu season to prevent contracting the flu.

People who are pregnant or 50 years old or older and children are more likely to get the flu due to having weaker immune systems, Joseph said.

Symptoms of the flu may include fever, coughing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills and fatigue.

According to the university's flu information site, administrators worked closely with the local health departments to monitor the flu in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and to recognize what impact the flu will have at the university.

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