85 Framingham State College students likely have swine flu
With an estimated 85 students at Framingham State College suspected of having contracted the H1N1 virus in the past month, college officials say healthy students are snapping up the seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccines as they are made available.
While it's difficult to pinpoint how many students have become infected with a flu-like illness suspected of being the H1N1 virus in recent weeks, about 85 have been sent home to recover, said Melinda Stoops, dean of students.
"It's hard to get a firm number," she said. "We've done a good job educating students, if they're ill they're going home immediately and may not be evaluated at Health Services."
Stoops said the highest number of suspected cases occurred in the last two weeks of October, and last week the number of students seen at Health Services who are thought to have contracted the virus dropped to a weekly low of 10.
But this week, on Monday alone, Health Services reported 10 more students had come in after likely becoming infected, she said, and it is unknown how many students have gone to the doctor with flu-like illness off campus or at home.
"Students have gone home on their own or are commuters who aren't coming to campus to be evaluated by Health Services," Stoops said.
Stoops called the number of students possibly infected a small percentage of the student population, and said the cases are widespread, not from one residence hall or groups of students on campus.
Classes are continuing as normal, Stoops said, and the school has no plans to cancel them based on the current numbers of students with flu-like illness.
"There's no talk now about closing the college at all," Stoops said.
Healthy students have been taking advantage of the free H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines being made available to students. The school has received 300 doses of the H1N1 vaccine.
Those vaccines were given first to students considered at high risk for contracting the virus, and to residence advisers and campus police.
The remaining vaccines, and those to come, are offered on a first-come basis to students who sign up with Health Services via e-mail.
In an e-mail to students, faculty and staff, Susanne Conley, vice president for enrollment and student development, said the school's allotment of the vaccine is unknown.
The school believes it will eventually have a regular supply of the vaccine, the e-mail said, and Health Services will notify faculty and staff if and when vaccines are available.
The college received 200 vaccines for the seasonal flu in mid-October, and all were given out to students within a week, compared to last year when seasonal flu vaccines were still available into January, Stoops said.
"It's in much higher demand this year," she said. "The same with the H1N1 vaccine - people are definitely getting vaccinated and expressing interest more than in years past."
Abby Jordan can be reached at 508-626-4449 or firstname.lastname@example.org.