CDC Issues H1N1 Guidance for Colleges and Universities
- By Dian Schaffhauser
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed new guidance for colleges and universities on how to prepare for the upcoming flu season, particularly H1N1 influenza, which appears to disproportionately affect young people.
The new guidance suggests that the most important actions institutions can take are: to encourage and facilitate good hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes; to encourage flu vaccination for recommended groups when vaccine becomes available; and to separate sick people from well people as soon as possible.
The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recently found that younger Americans, specifically those ages 6 months to 24 years, are one of the top priority groups when it comes to the new H1N1 vaccine.
The Department of Health and Human Services has created a communication toolkit for administrators and students, as well some badges and widgets that can be used on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The kit includes a question and answer document about the flu and how institutions should respond to it, template documents that can be used to communicate with campus communities about the flu, and Twitter-length text messages that can be used to notify the campus about the status of classes ("Classes continuing in session. Call campus information center at XXX-XXXX or visit our Web site for more info"), prevention ("Wash hands often or use alcohol-based hand cleaner. Wipe commonly touched surfaces such as doorknobs, keyboards, telephone, etc."), and symptoms ("You may have the flu if you have fever or chills AND a cough or sore throat").
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.