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Health director discusses flu shot benefits

University President Joanne Glasser and the Director of Illinois Department of Health hosted a press conference that demonstrated the state’s efforts in preventing the spread of the H1N1 virus.
With the flu season beginning, the Department of Public Health’s ultimate goal was to inform the public about the flu and steps to respond to it, Dr. Damon Arnold said.
Glasser said she was happy to host the conference since the topic is a major health concern “affecting the quality of life for all of us – in Peoria, [in] Illinois and throughout the country.”
Glasser said the university is on the lookout for an outbreak of the flu.
“We are being very proactive and very vigilant,” she said. “We have a plan in place … a plan that puts great emphasis on prevention.”
Arnold said he agreed prevention is a simple, yet important component in avoiding the spread of the seasonal flu.
“It’s easy as 1-2-3 – one is getting your seasonal flu shot, two is making sure you get the H1N1 shot [and] three is to follow the three C’s,” Arnold said.
Glasser said she strongly encourages the campus community to practice the three C’s – clean, cover and contain.
“We have put up [on] campus over 200 posters reminding our students of that message,” she said.
Both Arnold and Glasser stressed hand washing either with soap or a hand gel.
“Sing a song that takes 20 or 40 seconds,” Arnold said.
To promote hand washing, Glasser said wellness stations with health sanitizers have been installed in all of the campus buildings.
“We want and we encourage our students to constantly and continually wash their hands because in doing so they are preventing the spread of germs and the virus,” she said.
Arnold said he suggests “making sure you cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, dispose of it properly, and clean the environment that’s around you.”
He said, according to the Center for Disease Control, when disinfecting any environment specialized cleaners are not required.
“If students are experiencing flu-like symptoms we are encouraging them to call the Bradley health center [and] if in fact students are diagnosed with the flu we are asking them to stay in their rooms,” Glasser said. “Those who live close by, we are asking them to stay in their homes until they are symptom-free before returning to the Hilltop.”
Common symptoms of the flu are: headache, fever, coughing, sneezing, runny/stuffy nose, pains and muscle aches.
If an individual has the flu Arnold said the best remedy is to get rest and take care of his or her body for six to seven days. 
Arnold said so far there have been 586 hospitalizations and 17 deaths within the state and for this reason getting vaccinated is critical.
There are two different vaccines the public should be aware of – a seasonal flu vaccine that covers three strains and the H1N1 vaccine.
According to Arnold the 6-to-24 age group is extremely vulnerable in contracting the virus.
Glasser said she was hopeful the spread of the H1N1 flu can be contained, not only by taking precautionary measures, but also through communication.
“Public information efforts like the one held today will help with that cause – it will help get the message out,” she said.