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Thursday, January 15, 2004
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Despite vaccine shortage, flu remedies still remain

By Lori Russell
Staff Reporter


Don’t go to the Health Center if you want a flu shot. They’re tapped out.
And you may not find the vaccine anywhere else in town either.

But doctors say you can still take steps to prevent coughing and aching at the time of year when the virus hits campus the hardest.

Burton W. Schwartz, a physician at the Health Center, said students should try to get at least eight hours of sleep a day, drink plenty of fluids and eat healthy, balanced meals. Hot liquids, such as vegetable and chicken soups, can soothe sore throats and are packed with protein, carbohydrates and fat, all of which are important for maintaining good health, he said.

The early flu season in the United States has been accompanied by an unusually high and persistent demand for flu shots, or trivalent inactivated vaccine. This resulted in nationwide shortages of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Health Center, which announced availability of the vaccine in October, ran out near the end of last semester after administering more than 1,400 shots, Schwartz said. TCU will not get anymore vaccine this season. He said students might still be able to get the shot from their family doctor.

The Tarrant County Public Health Department ran out of vaccine Dec. 11, Vanassa Joseph, a senior public information officer, said. But the county has other remedies.

The Health Department offers a nasal spray form of the vaccine, FluMist, for $30. It is available at two locations: Southwest Public Health Center in Fort Worth and Northeast Public Health Center in Bedford. It is only available for healthy people ages 5 to 49.

Schwartz said the flu usually hits campus hardest during January and February, so there is still a chance TCU will experience a second round of the virus.

Schwartz recommends avoiding smoking or cigarette smoke, which irritates the respiratory system. They should also avoid alcohol, which weakens the immune system and can cause dehydration, he said.

Several students a week last semester were sent to hospitals and emergency rooms for treatment of dehydration, a common complication with the flu, Schwartz said.

“We had some very sick people, and some students had fevers of 102 to 104 degrees,” Schwartz said. “Every cell in their bodies ached.”

Schwartz said since many students are starting the new year with a new daily planner, it might be a good idea to turn to October now and write down a personal reminder to get your flu shot early next year.

That’s what Angie Payne plans to do.

The freshman psychology major has gotten flu shots yearly since she was a little girl, but didn’t get around to it this year.

Angie came down with flu symptoms a few days before dead days last semester, and suffered from a severe sore throat, body aches, fever and chills.

“The sore throat and body aches were the worst,” Angie said. “At night my fever would go way up and I would feel really hot and then I’d get the chills.”