Preventing flu at UVM

As the swine flu sweeps through our campus and students fall victim to both the H1N1 and seasonal flu, it is important to know the facts surrounding vaccination and to help do your part to keep a University-wide flu pandemic from occurring.  First, flu vaccines are effective and imperative to combating the flu. They are necessary for preventing and containing the illness.Rumors regarding the safety of vaccines, such as that they will cause brain disorders and autism, have circulated for many years. However, these arguments are based on faulty science and flimsy evidence.According to Christopher Grace, the Director of Infectious Disease at Fletcher Allen Health Hospital and a professor of medicine at UVM, the vaccines for H1N1 and seasonal flu are safe and well tested. Furthermore, they are necessary.By not getting vaccinated, you not only put yourself at risk, but you increase the risk of transmitting the flu to high risk students, such as those suffering from diabetes or asthma, he said. Although it is very important that students get vaccinated, there is a shortage of H1N1 vaccine. Because of the slow process required to produce the vaccine and the timing of the H1N1 virus, vaccine manufacturing companies and the federal government are having trouble producing and distributing an adequate amount of vaccine.That said, students and faculty must remain patient and do as much as they can to prevent spreading the flu while we wait for more. Students must remember to wash their hands frequently. The Cynic also recommends buying disinfectant wipes and routinely cleaning your living spaces.If you are feeling ill, it is also necessary that you stay home to minimize the community’s exposure to the flu. This may mean missing class, but the faculty and staff are well aware of the potential for this pandemic amongst college-aged students.In a letter to the UVM community, the University president’s Chief of Staff, Gary Derr, wrote to the faculty, “Pandemics such as this occur less than once a generation; we ask that you factor the unique nature of this event into your approach to students who find themselves dealing with this illness as you implement your class policies related to assignment deadlines, attendance and testing.”Therefore, it is important to eat well, wash your hands, maintain a clean living space, use hand sanitizer and, most of all, get the vaccine when it is available.