This year the flu season is likely to begin earlier and be of a much stronger intensity than in previous years. The College has been making preparations to manage through the season in a way that helps you stay healthy and the school year stay on track. We are working closely with local and state health departments to monitor flu conditions and to make solid decisions about the next steps to take. We need you to do your part as well. The following provides guidance for you and for the College community along with informational resources available to you.
Information: The College has established a web-site (www.wm.edu/flu) with guidance, news, resources, links to additional sites, videos and FAQ's with the latest information we have on H1N1. A flu update button has been added to the College home page to link you to the site. It will remain active for two weeks after which it will reappear when a new announcement is made.
Vaccines: We encourage everyone to get the flu shots. There will be three. The H1N1 vaccine requires two shots three weeks apart. The H1N1 vaccines will be given free of charge. The latest projection on availability of the H1N1 vaccine is mid-October. We will keep you informed of availability and distribution sites as we move forward.
The third shot is a precaution against the annual flu. We have been advised by the CDC and State health officials to begin distributing this vaccination. Information about where and when to receive this vaccination will be provided within the next few days.
*Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer.
*Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes as these spots allow the virus to enter your system.
*Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or cough and sneeze into your upper sleeve.
*Avoid shaking hands and, if you must, then be sure to wash your hands afterwards.
*Avoid sharing containers i.e. cups, utensils, plates, etc
The website provides more tips on staying healthy.
If you have the flu or a flu-like illness:
The symptoms of H1N1 are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before their own symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
*Practice self-isolation. Stay home or stay in your room until you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours.
*Students who live within 2 to 3 hours of campus should go home to recover if at all possible.
Keeping the Academic Semester on Track
The Provost will provide additional information today on managing class and lab work in the event that serious levels of infection begin to affect the campus. Students should seek guidance from their professors with regard to their individual classes.
We will continue to provide updates and guidance on the College's flu website, the Student Health Center website and the Office of Health Education website as the flu season progresses. In sum, we all need to do our part to prevent the spread of infection. Stay tuned and stay healthy.