Bradley has not had any reported cases of swine flu and with the recent approval of its vaccine, administrators are hoping campus will be able to avoid a brush with the virus.
The federal government purchased 195 million doses of the vaccine, which are set to begin distribution at the beginning of October, which is earlier than was anticipated, according to the Center for Disease Control.
The CDC will ship these doses out to state health departments, which will then allocate them to counties.
“We hope to be one of the first people in Peoria County to get those,” said Alan Galsky, vice president for student affairs. “The difference between this and seasonal flu is the most susceptible population is 18 to 25 year-olds – certainly our student population is most susceptible to that.”
The university hopes to obtain enough vaccinations for the entire student body and to have them by mid-October, he said.
The first 3.4 million doses of the vaccine to be distributed will be nasal vaccines, which aren’t recommended for pregnant women, another demographic strongly recommended to receive the vaccine, according to the CDC.
Most vaccines after this initial distribution will be in the form of a shot. Preliminary tests show that one shot will be enough to fully vaccinate older children and adults, whereas younger children may need one shot and a booster, according to the CDC.
The vaccinations will be free of charge. However, it is recommended students also get the regular flu vaccine, which is available at the Health Center and at local pharmacies for $25, said Dr. Jessica Higgs, medical director of the Health Center.
“While a normal flu season is expected to affect around 10 percent of campus, the H1N1 flu could affect as much as 30 percent of campus,” she said. “The symptoms are identical to a regular flu – with fever, body aches, sore throat and headache being the most common.”
The swine flu vaccine is also very similar to that of the regular flu. However, regular flu vaccines were created before the H1N1 virus existed, which is the reason there are two different vaccines this year, according to the CDC.
Higgs said although no students have been diagnosed with swine flu, one student who felt ill and had recently been in contact with her mother who had been diagnosed with H1N1, volunteered to go home.
There have been 15 to 20 students tested since the beginning of the year, she said.
Galsky said student response to the university’s precautionary plan seems to be strong, with hand sanitizers having been installed in all the residence halls and disinfectant wipes placed in high-use public facilities.
“We were very fortunate to get the [hand sanitizers] we could wall-mounted, because demand for them escalated in a very short period of time,” he said. “We haven’t received our order of hand sanitizers on free-standing stands [for academic buildings], but hopefully will in a very short period of time.”
Galsky said he is not sure how long the university will continue to take extra caution toward the flu, however it will follow the CDC’s advice. He also said he expects it to be less of a concern when the university receives the vaccination.
Swine flu has been reported in every state, 21 of which are reporting it widespread, including Illinois.
There have been 364 deaths attributed to H1N1 in the United States, with at least 3,486 worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
Whereas flu usually contributes to about 36,000 deaths each year, the CDC has estimated swine flu could cause 90,000 deaths this year.