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Campus prepares preventative measures for severe flu season

Justin Surgent/Collegian

The University of Massachusetts is taking preventative measures against the flu now that a majority of the student body has returned to campus.

University Health Services will be offering flu shots from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting today for students and other UHS patients. Vaccinations – available in both inhaled and injected form – will be billed directly to students’ health insurance plans.

Flu shots often “take up to two weeks to build up your body’s defenses,” according to Flu.gov.

Those seeking precautions against the flu can view UHS’ website for recommendations. UHS advises students to wash their hands, not to share food and utensils, and avoid touching one’s face and hands.

Dr. Alan Calhoun, the director of UHS, wrote in an email to students on Jan. 14 detailing the “preventative measures UMass Amherst is taking to manage further outbreaks.”

Calhoun cautioned students with flulike symptoms about returning to campus. These students are being asked to contact professors for make-up work and to email Residential Life, which has been prepped for late arrivals, to confirm a delayed check-in, according to the Calhoun’s email.

In the event that a student is sick on campus, UHS’s website recommends “staying home from school, or work, and limiting contact with others.”

UMass Dining is offering prepackaged meals of soup, crackers, ginger ale and other items, which can ordered from the dining service’s website. Costs for meals will be deducted from the student’s meal plan. Friends or an RA can be prompted to pick up and deliver the meal, according to UHS’ website.

The flu season started early and with an impact. There have been 29 deaths from the sickness across Massachusetts, according to a Jan. 18 article by WCVB Boston.

Calhoun’s email asked students to get their flu shots before returning to campus. Calhoun advised students to use the Center for Disease Control’s website to see their areas flu shot availability.

Precautions for the flu, though, began in the fall. Mobile clinics brought flu shots to on-campus areas, including dormitories and dining halls. These clinics will not return this semester.

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