UPDATE ON BC’S H1N1 PREPAREDNESS EFFORTS
Boston College’s Health Services Department and Emergency Management Team have met throughout the summer and early fall semester to prepare for the H1N1 flu virus.
Our primary focus has been on prevention—providing members of the BC community with information and guidelines through a variety of channels, including e-mails, web postings and posters, on how best to avoid catching and spreading the virus.
In accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we are reminding students, faculty and staff to:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water or hand sanitizers.
- Cover your nose/mouth with a tissue, sleeve or elbow when you cough or sneeze. Throw away used tissues.
- After you cough or sneeze, wash your hands with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand gel.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Regularly clean shared phone receivers, keyboards, remote controls, office equipment and door knobs.
- Get plenty of sleep and avoid smoking.
- Finally, if you think you are ill with the symptoms of influenza, avoid close contact with others as much as possible, and seek medical care. Students should contact BC Health Services at 617-552-3225 or visit the website at www.bc.edu/healthservices. In accordance with CDC guidelines, those infected should self-isolate until 24 hours after they are fever-free without the use of medication. The recovery time is generally 2-4 days.
In addition, the University has taken proactive measures to deal with a campus-wide outbreak should that scenario occur. Specifically, the following divisions have taken the following measures:
Purchased thermometers and masks that will be distributed to infected students through the staff at Health Services.
Ordered seasonal flu vaccinations that will be distributed to students at Flu Clinics on October 14th and 29th from 1-8 p.m. in the Murray Room in the Yawkey Center.
(Note: The H1N1 vaccine will be available as soon as it is approved and distributed. Public health officials will determine the number of doses that BC receives. In accordance with guidelines from the CDC, students who are considered at the greatest risk for health complications will be given first priority to receive the H1N1 vaccine. Depending on the number of doses available, the vaccine will then be offered to all BC students.)
Identified and contacted high-risk students with pre-existing health conditions to alert them of their prioritization for vaccinations.
Established teams of employees to more frequently sanitize door handles, elevator buttons and restroom faucets in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus.
Ordered hand sanitizers for all dining halls.
Created “buddy packs,” containing Powerade, bottled water, saltines and soup packets, which will be available in all dining halls for roommates and friends of sick students to obtain and deliver.
(Note: Ill students’ meal cards may be used by their friends/roommates to purchase buddy packs.)
Residential Life staff will work with Health Services and Dining Services to ensure that sick students who do not go home follow the recommendations of the CDC for self-isolation and care. Resident Directors can be contacted if students are unable to get their buddy packs/meals through their roommates and friends.
Office of the Provost:
The Office of the Provost has informed faculty that sick students should follow the CDC guidelines and remain out of class until the virus has subsided. Students should contact faculty to inform them of their illness.
In summary, Boston College is prepared to face the coming flu season as we have each year for the past several decades, with our professional staff equipped to meet any challenge that may arise. We remain hopeful that this flu virus, which has been mild thus far in the winter months of the Southern Hemisphere, will prove to be a mild and manageable strain when the flu arrives on campus this fall.
Tom Nary, MD
University Health Services