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UHCS cautions against H1N1

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Published on September 9, 2009 in The Huntington News

The vaccine for the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu, will be available to the Northeastern community by early November Executive Director of University Health Counseling Services (UHCS) Madeleine Estabrook said.
Until then, she said the University is taking all necessary precautions to prevent the contraction and spread of H1N1 and the seasonal flu.

‘We are registered with the state so when the vaccine becomes available it will be on campus, and students up to 24 are in the high risk group,’ she said. ‘It’s expected to be in production and sent mid to late October, so we are hoping to have it late October to early November.

The school is working with Boston Public Health Commission, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make sure regulations and requirements are being met for preparation and cleaning.

A large part of the preparation has been outreach to students, Estabrook said. Over summer, students were sent two emails about H1N1 and freshmen received free hand sanitizer and thermometers.

‘The best prevention is good education,’ she said. ‘We continue to do as much education as possible, and will have flu shots available.’

Some students said they believe the efforts will work, and some said they will take the precautions.

‘If they’re giving people resources to stay healthy, I think people will do it,’ freshman industrial engineering major Michaela Poulin said.

Distinguishing whether a student has H1N1 or influenza will be nearly impossible though unless they are hospitalized, Estabrook said.

‘We really don’t know because H1N1 will not be tested unless someone is hospitalized,’ she said. ‘Any flu can be very serious if you have high-risk underlying medical conditions or if you’re pregnant. For most of us it’s going to feel just like the mild illness of any flu.’

Because of this, some students are skeptical of the seriousness of the viruses. Freshman Nick Macrina, a digital arts major, said he won’t use the hand sanitizer he was given, and doesn’t think H1N1 is serious.

‘I don’t think it’s a big deal, it’s like the regular flu,’ he said. ‘It’s just another strain and we’re going crazy over it.’

In addition to students, faculty and staff are also being prepared for the flu season.

‘The staff is getting the same education,’ Estabrook said. ‘There will be seasonal flu clinics on campus for faculty and staff as well.’

The staff has been educated on another level as well, as for what to do if a large scale outbreak occurs.

‘The faculty will be aware that H1H1 and seasonal influenza might interrupt classroom instruction for an unusually large number of students, and will be prepared to provide course material, including make-up examinations and assignments, so that students will not be penalized for short-term absence from class due to influenza,’ Philomena Mantella, Senior Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Life, said in an e-mail sent to students on Aug. 27.

Estabrook said that by students following guidelines such as covering their mouth’s and noses with tissues, washing their hands and staying home if they have a fever, this will hopefully be controlled, though she said nothing is for certain.

‘We don’t know what’s going to happen, but we know that the public health offices are suggesting that there will be both seasonal and H1N1 influenza,’ she said.’

Written by jdunccc

September 9, 2009 at 12:00 am

Posted in The Huntington News

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