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Health Services preps resources to fight virus

Students encouraged to take health precautions in light of especially severe flu outbreak

In response to this year’s particularly severe flu season, Brown has implemented several measures to prevent the spread of the flu and to care for those infected, Health Services administrators said.

Health Services sent an email to all students last week about the recent outbreak, outlining how to prevent infection through vaccination and good hygiene, how to recognize symptoms and what steps to take after contracting the flu. The email urged students to receive the vaccine from Health Services and to use FLU WEB, a resource on the Health Services website where students can notify Health Services they are sick.

The vaccine is free, and students can call or walk in for appointments, Director of Health Services Edward Wheeler said. Health Services has administered about 3,500 flu shots this year. Roughly 3,000 people on campus got the vaccine before winter break, and about 500 have done so since — the majority in the past three days, Wheeler said. Health Services has informed students about the flu through Morning Mail, posters, table slips and posts on the Brown University Health Education Facebook page.

“We’re trying to get the word out in as many ways as possible,” Wheeler said. He also highlighted FLU WEB as a helpful resource for students who become sick by allowing Health Services to provide information about symptoms and connect students with various resources. The site enables sick students to be excused from classes, notifies a Health Services representative to contact them and allows them to coordinate friends to bring them meals from dining halls.

Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services, also strongly suggested students get vaccinated and encouraged students to take advantage of FLU WEB, saying the website “worked very well a couple of years ago” with the H1N1 virus outbreak.

Wheeler noted that since this year’s outbreak occurred over winter break, the reported numbers of flu on campus so far have been “very low.”  He added that he was happy with the number of vaccinations provided thus far but said he continues to urge students to be prudent in keeping themselves healthy.

Students’ responses to news of the flu outbreak have been mixed. Leah Haykin ’16 said she was glad she got the vaccine before going home for winter break. She said it was difficult for the rest of her family to get the vaccine following the “hysteria” that surrounded news of the outbreak.

Monica Kim ’16, who has not received a vaccine, said her doctor told her this flu outbreak has been made to be a bigger deal than it is, with public perceptions amplified after the more moderate flu seasons of the past two years.

Like many others,  Alison Su ’16 chose to get the vaccine when she returned home after learning of the outbreak, adding that the vaccine was “running out everywhere.”


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