Emory Report
September 21, 2009
Volume 62, Number 4

Seasonal flu vaccination update
An unexpected interruption in seasonal vaccine delivery has suspended Emory’s faculty/staff/student seasonal flu vaccination clinics until Oct. 1.

For  the latest updates and information related to H1N1 and seasonal influenza, visit www.emory.edu/flu.

Flu preparedness update


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September 21, 2009
First wave of flu ebbs

By Margie Fishman

Gone are the hacks and sniffles, the scattered thermometers, packets of Tamiflu, and jugs of Powerade and hand sanitizer.

These days, Turman South is silent. For the past month, the residence hall has hosted a rotating parade of 149 sick students, serving as a model for other universities and resulting in a front-page spread in The New York Times.

Not every guest of Turman South was diagnosed with H1N1 influenza, formerly known as the swine flu. But all exhibited flu-like symptoms, prompting doctors at Emory Student Health and Counseling Services to recommend the self-isolation facility to limit the spread of illness. Stays were brief, averaging less than three days.

The doctors’ advice paid off. Turman South remained empty as of last week, although University officials are keeping it open in case the campus sees another spike in flu cases.

“The process went seamlessly,” says Ryan Roche, area director for Residence Life and Housing, who helped coordinate the students’ temporary home. “Every department that was involved – Campus Services, Dining, Residence Life -- stepped up to the plate.”

Wearing surgical masks, Residence Life staff shuttled students to and from Student Health, fetched medication and granola bars for those too ill to leave the residence hall, celebrated one student’s birthday and handled academic advising for a freshman. Best of all, no staff member got sick, Roche says. Meanwhile, students bunked two to a room, had access to unlimited food in the communal kitchen and bonded over surviving “Swine of ’09.”

First appearing in April, H1N1 is a new flu strain, with the majority of cases occurring in people ages 5 to 24. As of Sept. 15, 437 Emory students had reported flu-like symptoms to Student Health, including one hospitalization, notes Student Health and Counseling Services Executive Director Michael Huey.

Similar to the seasonal flu, novel H1N1 is mainly spread through contact and large droplets produced by sneezing and coughing. Healthy individuals are encouraged to practice good hygiene and get their seasonal flu shot early this year.

On Sept. 14, Huey, joined by residence life and Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response staff, provided an H1N1 update to the community in a town hall meeting. The event was organized by the Student Government Association, the Office of the President, Campus Life and the College Council.

Audience questions focused on the severity of H1N1 symptoms (reportedly on par with the common seasonal flu), side effects from the H1N1 vaccine (also similar to the seasonal flu), and how students can encourage their peers to self-isolate and seek medical attention quickly.

The University has seen a good response so far to its seasonal flu vaccination clinics, which began on Sept. 8. The federal government is expected to distribute limited quantities of the novel H1N1 vaccine to target groups, including people ages 5 to 24 and health care workers, in early October – ahead of schedule. Originally recommended as a two-dose series, the vaccine is now expected to be administered in one dose, says Huey, which would make additional doses available to people outside of the target populations.

“What we don’t know is whether our surge on campus will be over by the time we have the vaccine,” adds Huey. “That’s why prevention is so important.”