Health Center readies for flu season

With the start of the 2010 flu season, Stamps Health Services has created improved preparedness and awareness campaigns on campus to better inform the campus community against the disease. The Health Center just received a shipment of vaccines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in order to protect students during the 2010-2011 flu season.

Although the Health Center does not believe in the reemergence of the H1N1 flu that was rampant last year, vaccines provided this year will protect students against it. The current vaccine includes protection against three different flu strains.

“We’re expecting probably a standard flu season this year. We haven’t had any warnings like we had last year for H1N1… Without the vaccine you are at risk of getting the flu. If you get the flu you will be very sick for about a week. If that happens around the time of finals or when big projects are due, you probably will not be well enough to get your work done,” said Dr. Gregory Moore, Senior Director of Stamps Health Services.

The vaccine that will be administered and provided periodically at the Health Center and Student Center this year does protect against H1N1 flu as a precaution but according to Moore, the H1N1 virus this year does not seem to be as prevalent as many suspected.

About 34,000 people in the United States die every year because of influenza. Those who succumb to the disease include primarily children and old people. Still, it can affect those who are healthy and young.

“It is not a benign disease. It is sometimes deadly, particularly in people that have chronic illnesses like asthma,” Moore said.

The influenza spreads from person to person through contact, usually by touching something and rubbing your face, allowing the virus to get on the eyes, nose and eventually inside the body. In order to prevent such transmission it is important to wash hands frequently and sneeze into your elbow so the virus does not sit on your hands.

“Stay home to prevent spreading of the virus and stop smoking because it makes it more difficult for your lungs to fight off a virus if you’re smoking,” Moore said.

Eligible students and their spouses can receive vaccines from the Health Center. Students will gain additional benefits with the passing of The Affordable Health Care Act, which was signed into legislation earlier this year.

“As long as a young person under the age of 26 does not have employer insurance, he or she can stay on his or her parents’ plan, and since insurance companies are making it harder by not writing policies for children separate from their parents, this may be the only option,” Moore said.

A press conference held last week at the Campanile talked about the effect of the new changes in Health Care on students. Most Tech students under the age of 26 are now offered the option of staying on their parents’ plan or of adopting the insurance plan offered through Tech.

Students from families on Medicaid will now be eligible for support under the new Healthcare Act.

The plan currently offered by the Institute is offered by Pearce and Pearce Inc. The agency offers coverage to over 200,000 students nationwide.

“It is that as well as other aspects of the plan that should ensure affordable health care for more and more people as it goes forward. This is really the first step that preventive care will be covered by insurance without a co-payment. It should increase pretty dramatically the number of people who have health insurance,” Moore said.