October 30, 2009

H1N1 symptoms, and vaccines, hit campus

Symptoms of swine flu appeared among the University community this week, and while vaccines are being made available to a small number of pregnant women, housing staff and medical center staff, they are not yet generally available.

“For the first time, we’re starting to get indications that there are flu-like illnesses on campus,” University spokesman Steve Kloehn said. He added that the school got the information from students’ health care providers at the SCC and the Medical Center, which both received complaints.

“Dr. Stephen Weber, head of infection control at the Medical Center, said they are seeing higher numbers of flu-like illnesses in the emergency room. The amount we’re seeing, and it’s not precise, seems absolutely consistent with what’s going on with the rest of Chicago and the region.”

175 doses of the injected form of the vaccine will be made available to pregnant women who are part of the University community: students, faculty, staff, other academic personnel, post-doctoral fellows, or their partners.

290 doses of the nasal spray will be given to housing staff who are likely to work with ill students, following CDC guidelines. Kloehn did not have numbers for the doses being made available to Medical Center staff.

Kloehn said the injected version of the vaccine, which consists of an inactive form of the virus, is safer for a larger number of the people.

Pregnant women are being asked to make an appointment with the SCC. The University will set up a clinic to distribute the vaccine when it receives enough to do so.