Like many medical offices across the country, Light Medical at Liberty University was eagerly awaiting the H1N1 vaccine for students, faculty and staff. The wait was over two weeks ago, when the office received the first allotment of 100 doses and began administering them to pregnant women and asthmatics — the groups the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has designated as having the highest risk of complications from the virus.
On Monday, Nov. 16, Light Medical received a 1,000-dose shipment of the vaccine. The current supply is affording the office the opportunity to vaccinate “persons between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old,” which is the level 4 target group recognized by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. As of Friday, Nov. 20, there was an ample supply available. The office is expected to receive another shipment in December.
According to Dr. Richard Lane, Director of Student Health Services at Light Medical, the office is currently seeing about 10-20 new cases of H1N1 every day, which is slightly down from the high of 30-plus cases a day during the last week in October. At least 2,000 cases of the virus have been detected in the student body since school began in August, he said.
The university responded by posting an H1N1 Information and Resources webpage full of advice for students and parents, which is continually being updated.
Most of the cases on campus have been relatively mild, but some people have had severe symptoms including fevers over 105 degrees. Some cases have developed into bronchitis and pneumonia, “especially among people who have not taken time off to rest and recover adequately while suffering from flu symptoms,” Lane said.
He has encouraged sick students to avoid exposing themselves to other students, especially by staying home from class and not going to the dining hall. He tells students to stay out of class until they have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication. He said a limited number of rooms at the Lynchburg Inn are still being used for isolation upon availability.
Dr. Boyd Rist, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, has advised the faculty to be flexible on attendance policy when students are missing classes because of the flu.
“Department chairs, deans, and my office will work with students on an individual basis who may encounter problems with grades and attendance policy related to this special situation,” Rist says.
Some professors are even posting lectures and assignments online to help students stay current with their coursework while they are sick.