Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Guarding Against Swine Flu On College Campuses
Health experts are warning that as the weather gets colder in the United States and the regular flu season begins the chances of getting swine flu will also increase. This is of particular concern on college campuses where students are housed in close proximity of one another in dormitories.
As students begin preparing for their return to campuses, Kathryn Hutchinson, the executive director of student wellness at St. John's University is offering these tips on staying healthy - especially while living in dorms:
Come to campus prepared, Each student who resides on a college campus should have some basic self care supplies including a thermometer, lots of hand soap, cleaning supplies to wipe down desks, sinks, computer keyboards, etc. In addition, each student should carry their health insurance card and know how to use it in the event that they need medical attention.
A crucial prevention tip is to wash your hands regularly throughout the day with soap and water, if you are in transition, have some hand sanitizer with you. Do not share toiletries, drinking glasses, or any items that are for personal use with others. Always cough into a tissue and throw the tissue away immediately; then wash your hands.
This flu season it is particularly important for students to learn about and make decisions about getting flu vaccinations as they become available. Three shots will be available, one for the regular flu and then two for the H1N1 flu given at different times. This makes the commitment to flu shots more intensive than ever before. It is important for students to discuss the options with family members and medical providers prior to coming back to school.
Of particular concern will be students with underlying medical conditions. These students are always at higher risk for complications from the flu, and appear to be particularly vulnerable to the H1N1 strand. It is wise for these students and their family members to speak with the student's treating physician to determine a plan before the flu season hits. This is even more critical for students who are far away from home and their primary doctors.
Finally, students and families should visit their university’s website for updated information on H1N1 and to familiarize themselves with prevention information. Guidelines change as the flu season hits or as more information about H1N1 is available so students should check for updates regularly.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/52636849@N00/204934333/