Judging from the recent cold spell that has set in around Santa Barbara, it’s that time of the year again when everyone is sneezing and coughing; it’s flu season.

To counter the common disease, Student Health will be administering flu shots to students, faculty and staff through the end of the quarter. Shots are available on a drop-in basis for students on Mondays from 9 to 11 a.m. and Fridays from 1:30 p.m. to 4:40 p.m. For faculty and staff, the clinic at Student Health is open on Thursdays 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. The shots are $15 dollars each.

The vaccine is safe for healthy people and also those with chronic medical conditions. A nasal-spray flu vaccine is also available as an alternative to the standard needle vaccine.

Trish Katje, a Student Health administrator, said the office has ordered a plethora of vaccinations in preparation this quarter’s demand.

“We’ve ordered 1,500 doses [of vaccinations for the immunization clinics],” Katje said.

While the shots will be available up until mid-December, Katje said now is the time to get one because flu season is still going strong.

Carol Cullen, the immunization program administrator of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Dept., said she suggests getting a shot even in December because the flu season can peak as late as February or March. She said she recommends the shot especially for those who are planning on traveling this coming winter.

Cullen said it would be fairly easy for a flu outbreak to occur at UCSB.

“College students are at a higher risk because they’re exposed to a lot of people [on a daily basis],” Cullen said.

Cullen said there has been no reported spread of the flu in the Santa Barbara area as of yet. She said it takes approximately two weeks for antibodies to start being produced after receiving the shot.

“It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when,” Cullen said.

If caught, Cullen said the flu can last up to one week depending on the person. According to the SB County Public Health Dept. website, the flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent it is by getting a vaccination each fall.

The website also mentions that flu spreads by coughing and sneezing from person to person. People can pass it on before they know they are even sick as well as while they are sick.

Cullen said those who are diabetic, asthmatic, have a heart issue or a lung problem should receive the shot. Those with pre-existing medical conditions are more prone to getting complications if they catch the flu.

According to the SB County Public Health Dept. website, every year in the U.S. five to 20 percent of the population contracts the flu, more than 20,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications and about 36,000 people die from the flu.