Fordham Silent On Swine Flu Policy

Health Officials Say H1N1 Virus Will Put Young Adults At Risk


Published: August 27, 2009

Fordham University has yet to officially and publicly offer guidelines to returning students or incoming freshmen on how to avoid contracting the H1N1 influenza virus, commonly known as the swine flu, in the coming school year. The fast approaching cold and flu season could be especially dangerous for people younger than 25 years old, according to an updated guidance report released on Aug. 20 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The H1N1 virus differs from the common influenza virus as young children and the elderly are not at an increased risk, while college-aged people are.  While the reason for the increased risk in those that are 18 to 25-years-old is unknown, the CDC has hypothesized that people over the age of 65 years old may have antibodies against this particular strain of influenza.

Other schools in the area, such as New York University (NYU) and Hunter College, are offering worksheets to prepare students for possible outbreaks on their Web sites. The worksheets explain what the H1N1 virus is, what the symptoms are, how to avoid contracting it and what to do if a student suspects he or she is sick. Fordham published a press release explaining much of the same information on May 1 on

the official Web site; however, little information is available for prevention of the H1N1 virus possibly spreading between students and faculty during the fall semester.

The CDC’s report offers guidance for institutions of higher education that will likely see an outbreak this fall and winter. Despite a lack of sanctioned procedures set forth by the University, Keith Eldredge, dean of students at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC), offered some advice.

Students and faculty who become ill should “self-isolate,” states the CDC’s report. Eldredge agreed.

We hope that students who experience influenza-like symptoms or are diagnosed with the flu will take steps to isolate themselves to limit the exposure to others,” said Eldredge. “This could include returning home for students who live in McMahon, if that is feasible, or not going to class.”

Fordham’s emergency management committee, led by John Carroll, the assistant vice president for safety and security, is working to “formulate plans to respond to a range of possibilities,” said Eldredge. Carroll was unavailable for comment at the time of printing.

The U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, spoke about the possibility of school absences caused by the virus in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 24.  According to the Associated Press, many schools are preparing for the possibility of continuing lessons via the Web, with online seminars and instructional take-home workbooks, in the event of a wide-spread infection.

“The primary focus of initial efforts will be education through flyers and posters about simple actions everyone can take to minimize the spreading of influenza,” said Eldredge.

Students should also implement a cleaning regiment in their residences, making sure to disinfect common surfaces, such as door handles. Social contact, such as hugging or hand shaking, should be suspended.  A distance of at least six feet should be maintained between an infected individual and others.

Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, said that a vaccine might be available to the public by mid-October, according to the Associated Press. Kathleen Malara, director of health services at Fordham, was unavailable for comment on whether or not the vaccine would be available at either of Fordham’s health centers.