FHSU president announces 3-step plan to prevent seasonal and H1N1 flu

With major outbreaks of H1N1 flu occurring at campuses across the United States, and one death recently reported at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, universities are putting detailed prevention and containment plans into place. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported last week that with hundreds of students sick with swine flu on at least 17 U.S. college campuses, this is the highest rate of influenza infection for this time of year since the last pandemic flu, the Hong Kong flu, struck in 1968.

In response, Dr. Edward H. Hammond, president of Fort Hays State University, has announced that the university is launching a three-step plan to help students, faculty and staff avoid the flu.

Step 1
The first step in prevention is to get a seasonal flu shot. The CDC advises that the single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year as soon as the vaccine is available, usually in September.

Flu vaccinations are highly recommended for everyone, but individuals who are in high-risk groups should make a special effort to get vaccinated. Contact your doctor or the Student Health Center to learn whether you are in a high-risk group.

Hays Medical Center will provide a free drive-through vaccination clinic from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27. The university urges students, faculty and staff to take advantage of the free clinic. The university is recommending the option of the HMC free clinic because of difficulties in obtaining an adequate supply of the vaccine for a campus clinic. For those who are unable to participate in the HMC free clinic, FHSU will conduct a follow-up clinic in the Memorial Union, McMindes Hall and Weist Hall on Thursday, Oct. 1. However, due to limited supplies, there will be a $10 charge per vaccination at the on-campus clinic. The university encourages people to attend the free clinic in order to save money but also to receive the immunization at the earliest possible date.

Step 2
FHSU plans to provide immunizations for the H1N1 flu on campus. The Student Health Center is on a waiting list and will provide vaccines when they become available, likely in late October. Details about the H1N1 clinic will be announced later when more information is known.

Step 3
According to medical and nursing editors from EBSCO Publishing, sometimes a new vaccine needs a second shot, or "booster," to take full effect. Therefore, the H1N1 flu vaccine might need to be given in two doses 30 days apart. The need for an H1N1 booster remains uncertain until ongoing studies are finished. If a second shot is required, only those who have received the original H1N1 vaccine will be eligible for the booster shots when they become available, likely in late November. Details about the H1N1 booster clinic, if needed, will be announced later.

General Disease Prevention
The best defense against the flu is good personal hygiene. Individuals should wash their hands thoroughly and regularly, sneeze into a sleeve, and stay home when they are sick.

What is the flu?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year. Every year in the United States, on average 5 percent to 20 percent of the population gets the flu; more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications; and about 36,000 people die from flu-related causes. Some people, such as older people, young children and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.

What is H1N1?
Originally called "swine flu" because the virus genes were similar to some influenza viruses that infect pigs, the new virus has been named "novel H1N1." The CDC reports that H1N1 has begun causing illness in people and spreading around the world.

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