By Robert Strenge, WSU News
PULLMAN, Wash. – With spring semester classes resuming this week amid reports of increasing influenza activity across the country, health officials at Washington State University are urging returning students to practice good health habits and get a seasonal flu vaccination.
“The seasonal vaccination continues to be the best protection against the flu and we are encouraging those students who have yet to be vaccinated to either visit their local health care provider or stop by our clinic when they return to campus,” said Dr. Dennis Garcia, clinical director of WSU Health & Wellness Services.
The flu vaccine is available to WSU students at the Health & Wellness clinic on the Pullman campus without appointment, he said. The cost is $25. This year’s vaccine also includes the H1N1 strain, which was typically available only as a separate vaccine in prior years.
WSU’s on-campus Health & Wellness clinic is accredited and staffed with experienced healthcare providers, Garcia said. The clinic also provides a 24-hour telephone nurse service for students, as well as a pharmacy.
WSU intends to publicize its flu message to students using a variety of methods, he said, including the university’s online student information system, emails, posted fliers and displays. In addition to encouraging students to be vaccinated, the information will emphasize good respiratory etiquette – such as covering the mouth and nose when sneezing – washing hands frequently and taking care not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth.
“Good respiratory etiquette can be extremely important to efforts to check the spread of influenza, particularly in the kinds of environments you find at universities where multiple students are often studying and living in relatively close contact,” Garcia said.
As part of its continuing preparedness efforts, WSU Health & Wellness Services also conducts ongoing infectious disease and pandemic flu preparedness planning and coordinates with the Whitman County Public Health office, he said.
Dennis Garcia, WSU Health & Wellness Services, 509-335-6165, firstname.lastname@example.org