Swine flu no longer a threat for Oswego State students

"The H1N1 outbreak affected hundreds of Oswego State students last fall, but is no longer a serious threat this semester.

""I have been at Oswego for 37 years, and last fall was the scariest semester," said Jean M. Grant, coordinator of Clinical Services and a Nurse Practitioner at Mary Walker Health Center

"Although there are no exact numbers, Grant said that the numbers of students affected by H1N1 at this time last year was in the hundreds. An overwhelming number of students were infected by the new strain of influenza, Grant said, and an even larger population of students was afraid of becoming infected.

"Some students on campus did not realize that swine flu was a problem at Oswego State. Grant said she was invited to speak to a Crisis Communication class, and students became upset because they were not informed of any cases of H1N1 on campus.

""At first some students didn’t realize how serious it was," Grant said.

"Like many students, Lauren Fisher was not concerned with H1N1 in the fall of 2009. At the time she was a Resident Assistant in Funnelle Hall and was aware of students becoming ill, but did not go out of her way to prevent it from happening to her.

"Fisher has never gotten a flu vaccine, even during the H1N1 pandemic. She does, however, wash her hands frequently, and avoids touching her face and mouth, habits that Grant stresses are important in avoiding the flu and other illnesses.

"According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, the U.S. Public Health Emergency for the 2009 H1N1 Influenza expired on June 23, 2010. The World Health Organization also declared an end to the H1N1 pandemic on August 10, 2010. It is believed that the H1N1 flu virus will continue to circulate on the same scale as a regular seasonal flu.

"There were only a handful of cases reported to Mary Walker Health Center in the spring of 2010, a significant drop off from the fall, and there have been no cases on campus in the first days of this semester.

"The CDC and Grant both agree that getting a flu vaccination is the most important step in protecting oneself from contracting H1N1 and the seasonal flu. The Health Center administered a few thousand vaccines last year to the students and faculty on campus, Grant said. According to an estimate by Grant, Oswego State will offer a number of opportunities for students to receive the flu vaccine, which will protect students from H1N1, as well as the seasonal flu. The vaccine is free for students and although no official dates have been set, the vaccination clinics will take place in Swetman Gym in the next few weeks.

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