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UMass urges students to get flu vaccination before returning to campus next week

This year’s flu has killed at least 18 in Massachusetts, and last week prompted Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to declare a citywide public health emergency.

In an email sent to students Monday, the director of University Heath Services, Dr. Alan Calhoun, urged students to get a flu shot as soon as possible to maximize the vaccine’s effectiveness.

“Before returning to campus, please get a flu vaccination since it can take up to two weeks for it to build up your body’s defenses,” Calhoun wrote.

Classes are scheduled to resume for the spring semester on Jan. 22.

Students who are already ill with the flu are asked to remain home until well, and “reasonable assistance” will be provided for students who miss the first few days of classes due to illness, according to the email.

For students unable to receive a vaccine at home, University Health Services has a limited supply available that it will dispense at specific times to students and other patients. Details about those clinics is available at www.umass.edu/uhs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided a search tool to find nearby vaccination clinics at www.flu.gov.

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