Published: Nov. 6, 1997

It’s airborne, it’s mutating and it could keep you sick in bed for days.

It’s the flu, and Wardenberg Health Center physician Jim Schlegel of the University of Colorado at Boulder advises people to get immunized against it.

“Someone may be in bed for three days, flat out, having to be nearly fed by someone willing enough to do that,” Schlegel says of the severity of the flu.

People catch the flu from breathing air that has been contaminated by a carrier’s cough or sneeze. Schlegel says people also catch the flu by touching their hands to their mouths after touching a contaminated surface like a computer keyboard or a door knob.

You probably have the flu if you have a high fever, muscular aches, headaches and a cough that may persist well after other flu symptoms have subsided. “The flu is generally considered to be a supercold,” Schlegel says.

Three strains of flu are represented in the vaccine this year: Bayern and Wuhan, both Type A, and Beijing, Type B, a Wardenburg official said.

“The duration, likewise, can go over a week where the symptoms will have peaked but lingering symptoms of feeling feverish, achy and very weak, or washed out, will persist.”

Schlegel says you can’t get the flu from the vaccine because the serum does not contain a live virus. He also says some people experience a little pain after the shot but it’s nothing a little Tylenol can’t take away.

Practitioners and researchers have been able to isolate specific virus attributes, so this year’s flu vaccine is quite similar to last year’s. One “A” strain is new to this year’s vaccine. “There are many, many mutations from year to year, and some are so closely related that they are effectively covered by one vaccine,” Schlegel says.

Wardenberg has offered $8 flu shots to CU-Boulder faculty, staff and students until the serum runs out. To date, the health service has given about 1,700 shots.