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Brandeis officials warn students about flu, see uptick in vaccinations

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  January 17, 2013 03:48 PM

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Brandeis University health officials say that although students and staff have been back on campus for a week without any confirmed cases of the flu, university leaders are working to prevent any outbreaks by raising awareness and offering the vaccine at the campus health center.

“We’re still getting out a lot of vaccines – we’ve been keeping it in supply,” said Diana Denning, nurse practitioner and co-director of the Brandeis Health Center.

Denning said she has seen a spike in Brandeisians receiving vaccinations after Boston Mayor Thomas Menino declared a public health emergency due to the flu last week. There have been 700 confirmed cases of the flu in Boston, 10 times more than last year.

“There’s been an uptick in demand for sure,” Denning said, noting that the media exposure on the flu has most likely influenced students. “We’ve done a few hundred vaccinations in the past week, and that’s more than we usually do in the January month.”

Denning said the university also sent home a letter to students and parents warning them to prevent the flu by getting vaccinated and by washing their hands regularly.

She said the university has also set up systems to help students self-isolate if they experience flu-like symptoms, such as having a friend pick up their meals from the dining hall with the sick student’s meal plan.

“We just want to get word out that students should come in [to the health center] with any signs of illness,” Denning said. “If you’ve got a flu-like illness, the recommendation is to stay home from class until your fever is down without any medication.”

She also said that although the university does not have any confirmed cases of the flu currently, students and staff should still try their best to prevent the sickness from festering and spreading.

“On campus, students live in close contact – the dining halls, the bathrooms, they’re all shared,” Denning said. “There are so many opportunities for the disease to spread, so only time will tell if everything we’re doing is going to help.”

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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