Battling flu a priority for campus health services

pig-thumb-1Health Services has been doing its best to arm the student body against the dangers of both the regular flu and H1N1 virus so far this semester. There have been three H1N1 vaccination clinics administering FluMist, the nasal spray vaccine over the past two weeks.

According to Janice Vermeychuk, director of Health Services, 445 students, staff and faculty were vaccinated at the clinics. Eighty-four percent of the recepients were students.

“I would call that a mediocre response,” Vermeychuk said.

Health Services plans to have more flu vaccination clinics when the injectable vaccination is received.

According to Vermeychuk, the vaccine was ordered over two weeks ago but Health Services has not yet received it because production of the vaccine is currently delayed.

According to Vermeychuk, Health Services is following the recommendation of the Center for Disease Control and “not routinely testing for H1N1 flu.”

“Cases of students with flu-like illness we do count,” Vermeychuk said. “We had a high of 36 cases the week of Sept. 14. The count has fallen since then. Last week, we saw 12 cases.”

On Oct. 24 Vermeychuk held a session for parents to educate them about the dangers of H1N1 and how to keep their children out of harm’s way.

According to Vermeychuk, some of the topics covered at the event were “the difference between the terms seasonal, pandemic and novel influenza, testing for flu, the steps people can take to prevent the spread of respiratory illness.”

Other topics covered were types of vaccinations for H1N1 and other types of flue, as well as illness prevention habits.

Vermeychuk said illness prevention includes healthy habits such as covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands and getting adequate amounts of sleep.

Staying home from work and school when ill and getting an annual flu shot is also advised.

Due to a recent shipment of regular flu vaccine (not H1N1) students who missed the regular flu vaccine in September are now able to get the vaccine by making an appointment with Health Services.

According to Vermeychuk, self-quarantining is urged by both Health Services and the College’s Critical Incident Planning Group.

Self-quarantining means when a student or teacher is ill, he or she stays away from other people and misses class to avoid getting others sick.

Flu symptoms are a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more and a cough or sore throat, Vermeychuk said.

If the flu is contracted, the sick person should stay away from other people until a full day after the fever has gone down.

According to Vermeychuk, College students are the target of H1N1, so it is advisable to get vaccinated against it.

For more information on any of these topics or sickness prevention in general, contact Health Services at 609-771-2483.