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Feeling crappy? You're not the only one. Universities around the country have been experiencing recent outbreaks of influenza. At Penn, the trend is the same. Student Health is trying to manage this year's increased number of flu cases, however, this flu season is not atypical, said Evelyn Wiener, director of Student Health Service. The increase is mostly due to milder flu seasons in recent years. The city of Philadelphia is looking a little green around the gills as well. At the end of January, hospital emergency departments reported an increase in the number of people exhibiting flu symptoms, according to a statement by Health Commissioner, Donald Schwarz . "This year we are seeing what we typically see [during a regular flu season]," Wiener said. "We've tried very much to be proactive and make it so people don't get the flu." The best way a person can reduce their chances of getting the flu is to get a flu shot. "I got the flu vaccine so I wouldn't be sick during OCR," College junior Yohann Sidhwa said. She was vaccinated in November and, citing a fear of needles, opted for the nasal spray vaccine instead. This year, Penn's Student Health Service gave 3,000 people the flu shot in October and November, which is considered the optimal time to receive the vaccination because it can take up to two weeks to build up immunity. However, Wiener stressed that students can still be vaccinated now. "It's still helpful, especially for people who may be concerned about having lots of work or people that are susceptible to respiratory illnesses," she said. Last week 200 more students were given the flu shot. This was thanks in part to an outreach service that sent emails to the student body and made flu shots available at Houston Hall last week. Thankfully, the outbreak may soon be reaching an end - just in time for midterms. "A typical flu season lasts about two to four weeks," Wiener said.
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