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If you want a flu shot from Student Health, you had better hurry. Student Health Director MarJeanne Collins said only 74 more doses of the influenza vaccine are available to students who have not already signed up for them. "A lot of people have signed up already. We're trying to get more," she said. Each year Student Health orders 200 doses of the flu vaccine and Collins said she expects this will be an adequate amount. "It has been my experience that we have not given more than 200 shots in a single year," she said. Collins emphasized that although the $5 flu shots are "recommended," they are not essential for college students. The main people at risk to suffer complications from influenza are those over age 65 or those who have underlying immune disorders or cardiac problems. "Flu shots are available for those who feel they want them rather than just for those who need them," she said. But Collins also said that college students are at an increased risk of catching the flu because of "clustering at work and play." "I haven't had the chance to talk to Student Health, but I'll call to see if the program will be extended to students," said Emergency Department Administrator Sue Canning. Canning said that this will be the first year that HUP will be "actively marketing" flu vaccinations to the University community. HUP Occupational Health Services is organizing the new program which will offer $15 flu shots to faculty and employees. The shots will be administered from the walk-in clinic located on the ground floor of the Silverstein Building. Canning said that the clinic has ordered 1500 doses in response to a Centers for Disease Control prediction that this year's flu season will be worse than usual. "It's hard to predict demand [for the shots], but we are expecting a serious outbreak in the region," she said. Canning added that the CDC's annual prediction has been highly accurate in recent years and that the organization was also successful in predicting last year's measles epidemic. "We basically take direction from their predictions," she said. But Chief of the Infectious Diseases Section P.J. Brennan cautioned that the alarm may be premature. "It's somewhat unpredictable," said Brennan. "This wouldn't be the first time that [the CDC] had predicted a banner year and it really wasn't." Brennan said that although the risk of complications from influenza is minimal for college students, the danger of influenza should be taken seriously. "I think that anyone who wants to prevent catching the flu should get the vaccination," said Brennan. "I'm a real advocate of getting flu shots." Brennan said students should realize that a flu shot is only effective for six months because of the constantly-changing strains of the virus. As a result, this year's vaccine is different than last year's. According to Brennan, the flu vaccine is prepared in the spring based on the type of flu which is spreading in East Asia. The virus migrates to the West starting in December and the flu season can last until March.

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