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October 5, 2009
By Claudene Wharton
The University of Nevada, Reno Student Health Center is holding flu clinics where students can get free seasonal flu shots, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Oct. 8, 15 and 22, at the Joe Crowley Student Union.
“The seasonal flu shot provides protection against the seasonal flu, but it does not protect against H1N1,” explained Cheryl Hug-English, medical director of the University’s Student Health Center.
Hug-English said that students are encouraged to get the seasonal flu shot, as seasonal flu causes many students to become ill and miss class each year. This year, students are also encouraged to get the H1N1 shot when it becomes available later in October.
“The seasonal flu shot is available now, and we are encouraging students to get vaccinated. Students can get it for free by showing their student I.D.,” she said.
One clinic was already held, on Oct. 1, where 105 students received the vaccination. In addition, many students have gotten the vaccination at the Student Health Center. Students can get the seasonal flu shot for free at the Student Health Center every day, 8 to 11 a.m. and 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
University faculty and staff can also get free seasonal flu shots at Renown’s Wellness Fair for State of Nevada employees, 7 a.m. – 11 a.m., Oct. 21 – 23, at the Reno Sparks Convention Center, but must first schedule an appointment to attend the fair by calling 888-324-3243 or logging on to State of Nevada Home Town Health. In addition, Renown is offering several other seasonal flu shot clinics, where faculty and staff who are fully insured by the HMO or PPO plans of Hometown Health or Senior Care Plus can get free seasonal flu shots.
Like other area health-care providers, Hug-English is awaiting word on when the H1N1 vaccinations will be available to her facility. The first batches of the H1N1 vaccine are expected to start hitting some health-care facilities as early as tomorrow, but first priority will likely be given to those most at risk – pregnant women, young children and health-care providers. State and local health officials will decide exactly who is offered the shots first.
“As soon as we are notified that we have received the H1N1 vaccine for our student population, we will get the word out,” Hug-English said. “Look for information on the University and Student Health Center Web sites. We will have clinics for H1N1 at the Student Health Center, as well as the Student Union.”
In the meanwhile, the University is enacting several measures to try to minimize the spread of both the seasonal flu and H1N1. Hand sanitizer dispensers have already been installed in the dining halls, the Joe Crowley Student Union and other high-traffic areas across campus, and more are on the way for classrooms and other strategic campus locations. An emergency operations team is in place and actively engaged in preparation efforts to respond to a possible larger outbreak of the H1N1 flu. The University has also set up an H1N1 information page on its Web site and is updating it frequently. Go to unr.edu, and click on the “H1N1 Flu Info” icon.
Students and all University employees with flu-like symptoms are also being encouraged to stay home until 24 hours after fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine. The University’s H1N1 flu Web site includes instructions for students living in the residence halls.
Hug-English said that although the University is taking the flu threat very seriously, there has not yet been any extraordinary outbreak of illness on campus.
“We are definitely seeing cases of the flu,” she said. “However, most cases have been relatively mild, and students are recovering quickly. We appreciate the efforts of both students and faculty in following the guidelines. Staying home from work or school when ill is a key factor in helping to prevent the spread of the flu.”