Students looking to avoid the aches, pains and fevers caused by the influenza virus can drop by Student Health to get a vaccine, beginning today.

The flu shots are available, without an appointment, Mondays between 9 and 11 a.m. and Thursdays from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., said Elizabeth Downing, acting director of Student Health. She said faculty and staff can receive the shots beginning Nov. 4, and continuing each Friday from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Shots are $15 and will be available through the end of Fall Quarter and possibly into January.

“These shots are on a first come, first serve basis,” Downing said. “[Receiving a shot] also tends to be very quick.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website, flu season lasts from October to late May. Aside from receiving a flu shot, people can avoid the virus by washing their hands regularly, not touching their face frequently, avoiding close contact with people and covering their nose and mouth when sneezing.

Downing said doctors advise people with chronic health problems such as diabetes, asthma or chronic respiratory diseases to get vaccinated because such ailments often contribute to more severe cases of the flu.

To alert students with such chronic health problems, Downing said, Student Health sent out e-mails notifying them of the availability of flu shots. The e-mail also encouraged students living in residence halls and other crowded spaces to get flu shots to reduce their chance of catching influenza.

Unlike last year, when a shortage of vaccines forced Student Health to only administer shots to those who were at a high-risk for flu complications, Downing said the supply of flu shots is ample this year and available for anyone who would like one.

As is common with each flu season, the strains of the flu virus this year are slightly different than those last year, Downing said. Vaccines are created each year based on the known changes to a flu virus from previous years, she said.

Downing said students who are already sick should wait until they are healthier to get a flu shot – at least 24 hours after they have had a fever.