By CityTownInfo.com Staff
November 19, 2009
The American College Health Association reported that cases of influenza-like illnesses at colleges and universities went down last week for the first time during this academic year. Unfortunately, ACHA also reported on the first student deaths as a result of the virus.
A total of 6,373 new cases were reported in the week of November 7-13, 27 percent lower than the prior week's rate. ACHA noted that all but five states noted significant declines during that time--a sharp contrast to the surge in influenza-like cases reported last month. The data was collected at 263 colleges and universities which account for approximately 3 million students.
But the hopeful report was overshadowed by news of two student deaths as a result of influenza."Though pandemic flu remains generally mild among college students," said Dr. James C. Turner, president of ACHA and executive director of the department of student health at the University of Virginia, "these two deaths are harsh reminders of the rare but tragic consequences of influenza."
Turner expressed concern that schools were not receiving enough of the H1N1 vaccine. He noted that higher rates of vaccination are "the best hope for reducing the impact of the pandemic on campuses."
Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported that many college students who have access to the swine flu vaccine are not likely to receive it. According to a recent Post-ABC News poll, nearly seven out of 10 people ages 18-29 said they did not plan to get vaccinated.
"I've never gotten a seasonal flu shot in my life," explained Justin Fiorilli, a student at George Washington University who was quoted by the Post. "I roll the dice every year, and I am going to roll the dice this year. I mean, we're constantly interacting with people here. There's no way to get around it."
"The vast majority of students don't worry about this at all," said Turner, who was also quoted by the Post. He said that according to a survey at the Charlottesville campus at the University of Virginia, "only 54 percent--maybe this is good--say they never share a Solo cup or smoking material, which means there's 46 percent who continue sharing and smoking hookah pipes and cigarettes."