The Sansum Clinic started offering free flu vaccinations throughout the county today in preparation for the winter season.

Locally, flu shots are available today from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at 215 Pesetas Lane in Santa Barbara. Several other locations will provide free vaccinations to children and adults throughout the month.

UCSB’s Student Health will also be providing flu shots at various locations around campus throughout winter. The locations and dates of these clinics are listed on the Student Health website and office.

Nancy Gustafson, clinic manager of UCSB’s Student Health Center, said it is important for students to receive the vaccination to prevent the transmission of diseases.

“It is important for students to get vaccinated even if they ‘never get the flu’ because if they are vaccinated they will keep the flu from spreading,” Gustafson said. “There are plenty of vaccinations, so we are recommending that all students get vaccinated.”

According to Marjorie Newman, assistant medical director at the Sansum Clinic, the H1N1 flu virus is still a threat, although it does not require an additional vaccination this season.

Although the number of influenza cases and types vary from year to year, the Student Health Center typically sees hundreds patients with the flu and administers thousands of vaccinations.

Third-year biology major Andrew Frangos said he thinks it is important to take advantage of the preventive steps available.

“Yeah, I am going to get one; it is good for you,” Frangos said. “[I’m] not really worried about the flu, more just cautious about it.”

Despite the increased risk of catching influenza during this time of year, some students are concerned about the vaccination’s potential side effects.

Third-year global studies major Justin Rice said the risk of catching the flu has not convinced him to receive the vaccination.

“If I get the flu I will just lay low for a few days and let my body take care of it,” Rice said. ”I am not trying to get anyone sick; I just do not want to take any kind of medication unless I have to.”

However, Newman said the side effects of the flu shot are generally mild and the benefits outweigh the risks.

“The viruses in the flu shot are inactivated so you cannot get the flu from the flu shot,” Newman said. “Some minor side effects that could occur are soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site, low grade fever and mild muscle aches. Typically, most people do not have any side effects from the flu shot.”