H1N1 Flu Q & A

Question: I have a fever since yesterday and I was just wondering if Fronske still gives notes because I heard that you don't anymore because of the flu? Thank you!
Answer: Fronske is trying to avoid having students come to the clinic to get notes for class absences. First of all it exposes others to the virus and the clinic can at times be overwhelmed with sick patients. If faculty are asking for an excuse for an absence, we ask students to bring to the faculty member a copy of the letter from the provost explaining Fronske’s concerns.

Question:

My daughter is a NAU student and she will be going to Cuernavaca, Mexico through the NAU study abroad program. She will be leaving for Mexico January 11 2010. I am not supportive of her going to Mexico unless she has the HIN1 vaccine.

Do study abroad students who are traveling to high risk areas like Mexico get any priority for the vaccine?

We live in Colorado but there is no flu vaccine available here when she is done the Fall semester and returns home. The few vaccines we received in Fort Collins are gone.
Answer: It is hoped that NAU will have the H1N1 vaccine readily available by the time your daughter leaves for Cuernavaca (or a couple of weeks in advance so that antibodies have developed to provide protection) and then there will be no need to worry. It is anticipated that much larger quantities of the vaccine will become available in November and especially December. Your daughter’s travel will not put her in a priority group, because priority groups are determined by what might happen to you when you get the flu (for example, you have underlying health conditions that might make symptoms much more severe) rather than your risk of getting the flu.

Question:

Hello, checking in with 2 questions:
1) Do you have, as yet, any estimated date for receipt at Fronske of the injected H1N1 flu vaccine? 
2) Do you know if this vaccine will be available first at the Coconino County Dept. of Health, and later at Fronske, or will it be available at both places once it arrives in Flag?

Answer: The date on which NAU will receive H1N1 vaccine has been changing daily. All health care providers in the state ordered their vaccine through the Arizona Department of Health Services. ADHS has then delegated the responsibility for distributing the vaccine to the county health departments. Fronske speaks with the Coconino County almost daily to see when NAU might get the vaccine. Coconino County has been receiving much lower allotments of the vaccine than was originally anticipated and is struggling with how to meet the needs of its many constituents. The first allocation of vaccine that Fronske receives will go to the NAU individuals in the first priority group (see chart below). For NAU this is anticipated to be around 500 individuals. Once greater vaccine allocations are received the second priority group will be eligible to receive the vaccine. It is possible the county would be giving the vaccine before NAU. In fact, the county held a clinic recently. However, this clinic was planned prior to the county knowing that its vaccine allotment would be much smaller.

Question: I checked your website and found information about the H1N1 vaccines. Do you know where my daughter can get a seasonal flu vaccine on campus or near campus in Flagstaff? She has been sick with mono and respiratory stuff for a long time and is finally well enough to get one we think, but we need to know where she can get one.
Answer: The seasonal flu vaccine is becoming a rare commodity in Flagstaff. The Mollen Clinics have been giving vaccine in grocery stores but there are no longer any Flagstaff clinics listed. Fronske officials called pharmacies because some of them have still had vaccine available. They found that Fry’s, Walmart, Target and Walgreens are currently out. Albertsons has a few vaccines and Safeway has some vaccine but very limited hours.

Question: My son is a student an NAU and has had pneumonia twice. Would this be considered as a high risk category and eligible to receive the H1N1 vaccine?
Answer: Having had pneumonia twice does not predispose your son to the H1N1 virus, and he does not meet the Coconino County Health Dept. guidelines for high risk vaccination. When NAU has larger quantities available to administer to the general student population, he would be eligible to receive the vaccine.

Question: Is mild asthma considered a chronic condition? Whenever my daughter gets a cold it ends up dropping into her chest and the asthma complicates it all. Does this put her in the first group of the flu shot protocol?
Answer: Asthma is a considered a chronic medical condition, however, the first priority group only includes individuals 5-18 years with chronic medical conditions. The second priority group includes all people between the ages of 6 months and 24 years of age regardless of health condition. Your daughter probably is in this age group. If your daughter is 25 or older her asthma would qualify her for the second priority group. NAU would not use the severity of her asthma as a decision point. Her having asthma would qualify her for the vaccine. We estimate that at NAU we have only 500 or so individuals in the first priority group. This means that when we start to get quantities (for example, several thousand doses) we will begin to administer the vaccine in residence halls and highly visible campus locations. Unfortunately, as you are probably aware, it is very difficult to know just when we may receive vaccine. We will continue to update our website www.nau.edu/flu as to the availability of the vaccine.

Question: When will NAU be receiving the H1N1 vaccine?
Answer:

The H1N1 vaccine is being distributed through the county health departments and the Arizona Department of Health Services.
 
Fronske Health Center will administer to the first priority groups of pregnant women and Fronske Health Center health care workers. It is anticipated that by the end of October we will have received enough vaccine to administer to the next priority group, which is the students within the Health and Human Services academic programs that are participating in direct patient care.

It is anticipated that the vaccine will continue to be distributed weekly. It is unknown how much vaccine will be received. Fronske will follow Centers for Disease Control and Coconino County Health Department guidelines on administering the vaccine. Fronske will administer the vaccine to students, staff, and faculty once sufficient supplies are received.

See the vaccine priority groups listed below for both the seasonal flu vaccine and for the H1N1. You will see there are differences in the priority groups for the H1N1 than for the seasonal flu vaccine.

Question:

One thing that I can’t find in your web pages is the percentages, or even an estimate of percentages of reported cases of Swine Flu at NAU.

Is this a convenient oversight, or is NAU trying to suppress this information. If this is not the case, than why don’t you have a link in your sight to the weekly amount of reported cases, confirmed or not. This is what all the people that I’ve spoken with really want to know!

I will be publishing an article this week in an attempt to start an awareness group, and hopefully, a following in the student body at NAU. We need answers!

Please reply ASAP.
Answer:

Neither the state nor the county health departments currently are testing northern Arizona for H1N1 because it is believed that individuals with the flu most likely have H1N1 virus.

Between Fronske and the trained Residence Life staff, NAU keeps a count of the number of individuals who are suffering from flu-like illnesses. Since the beginning of the academic year, 58 individuals have reported symptoms consistent with the flu. There have been no reports of students hospitalized nor have there been any reports of pockets of the H1N1 virus.

Northern Arizona University has developed a public web site that addresses the H1N1 outbreak with updates and Q’s and A’s from anyone. Seasonal flu season is approaching, and an out-of-context running tally of people who may have H1N1 would not serve the campus community.

Fronske and NAU administrators are working closely with Coconino County Health Department officials to stave off the H1N1 outbreak and we will continue to do so. If the outbreak gets more serious, faculty, staff and students will be informed as to what additional steps they should take.

You’re note says you will be publishing an article this week but doesn’t say what publication or what the gist of your article is. I’m hoping that somewhere in your article you can mention that good hygiene can help prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus as well as the seasonal flu. These prevention tips are discussed on the web site.

Question: If the students somehow missed the (scheduled) times for the flu shots will any other times become available? I have not reached my son yet to see if he had this flu shot. He is currently under the Gold Plan at Fronske.
Answer:

NAU has concluded the seasonal flu vaccine clinics within the residence halls. However, your son can walk in to Fronske during immunization hours and receive his seasonal flu vaccine. The vaccine is covered under the Gold Program so he will have no out-of-pocket expense.

The immunization hours are as follows: 8 to 11:30 a.m. and 2 to 4:30 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; and 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 2 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays.

Question: Standing in line for pizza, yesterday, I realized that I would be handling the same spatula as the guy in front of me.  With my heightened awareness of flu virus transfer across common surfaces, I wondered if he might have the flu and, if so, was there any way to prevent his contagion finding their way to my mouth, eyes, or nose.  "Aha!," I thought, "I will get the pizza and immediately use one of the many hand sanitizer stations that are surely to be conveniently located here in the HotSpot." But to my dismay, I could find nary a one.

I don't know the facts, but I have to assume that 20% (at least) of students touch the same utensil handles and other common surfaces in the HotSpot every day.  It seems to me that whatever other precautions are being taken around campus, this one hazard will negate them all.

Are there plans to mitigate the situation in the HotSpot, or should I just stay away from there for the next 18-20 months?
Answer: NAU Capital Assets is in the process of installing hand sanitizers in the Hot Spot. They should all be in by the middle of next week.

Question: Do we know when NAU may be administering the Swine Flu shots?
Answer: The distribution of the vaccine for H1N1 is expected in late October. Fronske Health Center will provide more information when available.

Question: My son is a senior at NAU and lives off campus. If he gets the flu, are there any resources to help him? I think I read that the school may take a floor in one of the resident halls and use it to quarantine students. Is that just for students that live in the dorm?

Last year, when he was sick I could not even get a grocery store to deliver Theraflu, Gatorade, Jell-O, cracker, ginger ale to our sick student. I was thinking this could be a service that parents could pay for. Any business major willing to put something together? We do not have family or friends in the area, so I always feel so helpless. I could only get Chinese food delivered to him!

Thanks for all you are doing to keep the students at NAU healthy!
Answer: Flu resources available to your son are the professional staff at the Fronske Health Center and masks if necessary to protect his roommates (if any). Many NAU students seem to quickly find at least a small circle of friends who can help them in these situations. All successful students need some connection and support. In the absence of this kind of network, it might be helpful, especially this year, to guide your son to purchase the items you suggested in advance and keep them in the pantry for if he does become ill.

As far as delivery of food or other items, we can ask campus for suggestions. Send to ask-flu@nau.edu.

Question: The vaccine scheduled to be delivered at the flu clinics on the Mountain campus, is it H1N1 or seasonal or both?
Answer: The vaccine that is currently scheduled to be delivered is for seasonal flu. Fronske officials and the Centers for Disease Control are recommending that individuals get seasonal flu vaccinations to reduce the chance of getting seasonal flu and possibly spreading it if H1N1 becomes widespread. The H1N1 vaccine is not scheduled to be available until later in the fall.

Question: Hi—I keep reading about hand sanitizers placed in many locations; what are the plans to have hand sanitizers in the classrooms?  All students touch the door handles and then desks/chairs/tables and we currently do not have any sanitizers in the classrooms for their use.  Thank you.
Answer: Because of the cost, there are no current plans to put hand sanitizers in classrooms. The 550 hand sanitizers are located across campus, including academic buildings.

Question: My daughter is currently at sophomore at NAU. She was told that a student had been diagnosed with swine flu and was being quarantined. Is this accurate information? What is your quarantine policy? Am I to understand your web site information that if she starts to feel sick, she should not go to Fronske but care for herself in her dorm? She does not have any underlying medical conditions.

I would appreciate hearing from you regarding my questions. Thanks for your time and help.
Answer: No students at NAU have been quarantined because of swine flu or any other reason. Because of the potential high attack rate of H1N1 and the severity level (similar to seasonal flu), the university is following the advice of the Coconino County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and not quarantining individuals showing flu-like symptoms. The CDC and the county are forecasting high numbers of the illness and it could quickly become unnecessary and ineffective to move sick students to a location away from healthy students.

Additionally, neither state nor county health officials are testing for H1N1 because of the high number of possible cases. That said, the county estimates that 80 percent of the individuals with flu-like symptoms have swine flu.

We are asking that students who have flu-like symptoms to go home (if possible) or stay in their dorm rooms unless their condition worsens and they feel they need medical attention. The staff from the Office of Residence Life has been trained to monitor ill students and can make any arrangements for food delivery, if necessary. Masks also are available for when an ill student must leave the room for any reason.

Question: Our daughter will be covered by Aetna starting the first week of Oct. Will flu shots be available free of charge for Aetna subscribers? Will they still be available then?
Answer: If your daughter will be covered by the Arizona Board of Regents’ sponsored student health insurance plan sold through Northern Arizona University, her flu shot will be fully covered by the plan.
If your daughter is insured on another Aetna plan, for example, through your employer, the coverage for the flu vaccine will depend upon the benefit design of your plan and the co-pays and deductibles required.

The H1N1 vaccine is currently not available. Once the vaccine becomes available, County Health Departments across the country will be responsible for distribution of the vaccine. The amount of the vaccine distributed will be controlled and clinics will be directed as to whom is to receive the vaccine in order of priority (determined by the risk of the individual having a bad outcome or death from getting the flu). We anticipate the H1N1 vaccine will not be widely distributed until late fall or early spring.

Question: (My daughter) s covered by my insurance Ameriben.  Does It cover the flu shot? 
Answer: Your AmeriBen health insurance plan should be a Blue Cross Blue Shield carrier. Your card should contain the Blue Cross Blue Shield logo if that is the case. We are a Blue Cross Blue Shield provider so we can bill your insurance for the services provided to your daughter. Unfortunately, we cannot answer whether your particular health plan will pay for the flu vaccine and whether you might have a co-pay or deductible to meet. All plan coverage vary. The cost for the vaccine is $20 for students that do not have any insurance or the insurance will not cover it.

Question: My daughter text me and said her friend on campus has the H1N1 and her roommate is really sick.  If someone contracts this flu do you house them or quarantine them in separate housing to prevent the spread?
Answer:

Thus far, the university has few reported cases in the residence halls. NAU has put a great deal of thought and has consulted with Coconino County health officials and other universities about whether the university should isolate students sick with H1N1 in a separate location from their residence hall room.

With the possible severity level of the H1N1 virus (very similar to the seasonal flu) and the potentially high attack rate (the numbers of individuals that will get the flu), it was decided to allow sick students to return to their residence hall room while providing them with instructions on how to prevent further spread.  The Centers for Disease Control and county health officials are forecasting high numbers of illness in all of our communities and it most likely would quickly become unnecessary and ineffective to move sick students to a location away from healthy students. NAU is encouraging students that can go home for the duration of their illness to go home, but recognizes this is not always easy or possible. The university came to this decision considering all of the following:

  1. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that the H1N1 could have an attack rate three times the normal seasonal flu attack rate of 8 percent to 10 percent. This means that NAU could have 30 percent of our community get sick from the H1N1. This will likely eventually be all communities, i.e. NAU, Flagstaff, Phoenix.
  2. A person with H1N1 can be shedding the virus (it is contained in their respiratory droplets) a day before they become symptomatic. So before they even know they are sick they have possibly exposed others around them. Once they know they are sick there are simple measures to take to prevent further spread, the most effective step being wearing a mask so that respiratory droplets do not become airborne.
  3. With a 30 percent attack rate, many exposures will occur in areas where there are lots of people, i.e., dining halls, movie theaters, classrooms. It is more likely a student would be exposed in these areas than from a roommate who knows he or she is sick and can take preventive measures to keep from exposing their roommate.
  4. Practicing good hygiene is the single most important thing any student can do to prevent getting the flu. Once someone knows they are sick they are asked to wear a mask when they are in the room with their roommate (preventing airborne droplets) and keep the room clean using alcohol based wipes. If he or she leaves the room to use the restroom or access medical care they are asked to wear the mask.
  5. The residence hall staff has a protocol for getting food to the sick students.
The residence hall staff is entering the numbers of sick students within their halls into a database so that health officials can monitor the number of illnesses.

Question: The article states that “All university decisions will be based upon the severity of the virus and the numbers of ill individuals and will be made in conjunction with Coconino County health officials.”  How is the number of ill students to be tracked, especially if they are discouraged from going to medical facilities? Will faculty be providing this information according to the number of students who call in sick?
Answer: NAU will be tracking ill students in two ways. One is the number of sick students visiting Fronske Health Center. The second method will be through a reporting system we have implemented through our residence halls. The resident assistants will be reporting influenza-like illness within their halls. We will not be asking faculty to report specifically on absenteeism but will be working with deans and department chairs to share with health officials any anecdotal data.

Question: I have been told by my daughter that there are two active cases of students with Swine Flu on campus.  What has the University done to counteract these incidences and protect other students? How do we as parents get notified of incidences such as this before our child contacts us? Any insight would be helpful.  Thank you.
Answer: The University expects that we will have a very active flu season due to the new H1N1 virus. Our campus health clinic is seeing a few influenza-like illnesses per day. County health officials believe that more than 80 percent of influenza-like illness circulating right now is the H1N1 virus. This is not unusual as most communities in the United States have been seeing some H1N1 circulating throughout the summer. So far the H1N1 virus is similar in severity of illness to the seasonal flu and most individuals get better without needing medical care.
NAU has rolled out a comprehensive prevention and education campaign with the goal of reducing the spread of the virus. A letter was mailed to parents late last week from Dr. Haeger discussing the university’s preparedness efforts surrounding H1N1 and this week a letter was sent from the Fronske Health Center’s medical director. This letter discussed symptoms, treatment, and prevention efforts surrounding H1N1.

Question: It sure is great that the university installed hand sanitizers! 
So, when will there actually be sanitizer in them?
Answer: The university has 550 dispensers installed and all should have been filled by now. However, they are getting heavy usage and may be empty. Capital Assets has agreed to be responsible for filling the dispensers. If a dispenser needs refilling, contact the building custodian.  If the custodian isn’t available, contact Custodial Services at 3-2781.

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