VP for Student Services Talks with KSFY on H1N1 Flu Preparations

Colleges Prepare, Second Wave Of H1N1

Kent Erdahl, KSFY
College students are in a high-risk group for the H1N1 swine flu. Schools like Augustana are already making special preparations to keep them safe.

Health officials are taking aggressive steps to arm Americans against what's expected to be a second round of the H1N1 swine flu.

Vaccine testing on humans started Monday, to determine at which dose immunity is achieved. Once the vaccines are ready, they will be given to different age groups based on risk level and one of those receiving high priority is college students (ages 19-24).

Augustana College is one of several universities across the state of South Dakota preparing for the flu season before students arrive. Colleges will be some of the first in the state to receive an H1N1 vaccine, and Augustana plans to administer it on campus at the student union. It will not be mandatory, but all students will be encouraged to get it.

"I'd definitely get (the vaccine) if it was offered through campus," said Augustana student Jenna Boerneman.

Jenna says she likes the idea of a vaccine, but she's not too worried about the H1N1 swine flu. Then again, she's on campus early for soccer season, while Dean of Students Jim Bies is on campus preparing for flu season.

"We're kind of at, perhaps, the tip of the iceberg with this pandemic flu," Bies said.

Bies says an empty conference room at the student union will quickly turn into a vaccination headquarters for both the seasonal flu and the H1N1 flu as soon as doses are available for students.

"We're planning for a lot of our student body to be affected by the flu," Bies said.

Perhaps the biggest issue for schools like Augustana is what to do if a student living in a dorm comes down with the H1N1 Swine Flu. In most cases, school officials say they'll simply ask the student to go home, but they say they realize, in some cases, the student will have to stay in their room.

"If they're not feeling good, we don't want them to go to class," Bies said. "We would rather make arrangements to have, you know, their meals delivered to them, and just practice good hygiene."

The guidelines are coordinated with the South Dakota Health Department, which has tracked the virus since the spring. Jenna was living in the dorms at that time and says it's a big reason why she's not too worried this time.

"A week after we heard about it, not even, there were emails out about once a week, updating the status of the H1N1 flu and stuff like that," Jenna said.

Augustana will reinstate that email effort as the flu season begins. It's just part of a big educational effort the school is planning. Students can also expect to see flu prevention posters all over campus. Finally, the school plans to post the latest H1N1 information and resources on a special section of its Web site.

For more information on the H1N1 flu and updates from campus, visit www.augie.edu/flu.

Kent Erdahl
KSFY Television
300 N. Dakota Ave.
Suite 100
Sioux Falls, SD 57104
Phone: 605.336.1300
Email: ksfy@ksfy.com