College Students Urged To Get Swine Flu Vaccine

Compiled By Staff
December 7, 2009

Despite a drop in the number of flu-like illnesses reported on campus, college students are being urged to get the H1N1 virus vaccine.

CNN reports that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is encouraging college students to be inoculated before the upcoming Christmas break. If doing so is impossible because of exam schedules, he said, then students should do their best to be vaccinated when at home. Moreover, the Department of Education is asking teachers to be flexible with students who may need to miss classes because of sickness.

"If you are sick, this is highly contagious and we really need you home getting well before you return to class," he was quoted as saying by CNN.

Similarly, the Poughkeepsie Journal reports that the New York Health Department recently contacted every college outside New York City to take vaccine orders in an effort to immunize as many students as possible prior to the holiday break.

"People are going to be getting together with families and at social events and there will be more opportunity for transmitting the virus," explained Claire Pospisil, a spokeswoman for the Health Department, who was quoted in the Poughkeepsie Journal.

The efforts to encourage vaccination come even though swine flu infection rates at U.S. colleges and universities recently dropped. On November 25, Bloomberg reported that swine flu infection rates at colleges and universities fell 37 percent the week before, closely following a similar decline during the week prior to that one.

"The peak clearly has passed," noted Ira Longini, a University of Washington statistician who advises the U.S. government on flu, who was quoted by Bloomberg. "The real question now is have enough children been infected such that they're immune, and there's not enough susceptibility to sustain a third wave."

Health officials are clearly taking no chances. Dr. Richard Daines, New York state health commissioner, emphasized that while swine flu cases have recently dropped, the infection remains high in the state, and so people should still be vaccinated.

"The nation as a whole is experiencing a slight decrease in H1N1 flu activity," he said in a statement which was quoted in the Poughkeepsie Journal. "But New York is still experiencing widespread H1N1 flu activity, just slightly decreased compared with last week. Flu activity continues to be much greater than usual for this time of year."

Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, agreed. "Although flu is going down, it's far from gone," he was quoted as saying by CNN. "Only time will tell what the rest of the season will bring. There are still lots of kids who are sick and lots of people who at risk of getting influenza and end(ing) up getting severely ill from it."

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