URI to hold 11 flu shot clinics to encourage university-wide participation

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Health Services director recommends vaccination for all members of URI community

KINGSTON, R.I. – September 22, 2010 – To comply with a federal recommendation calling for universal flu vaccination this season, the University of Rhode Island will hold 11 clinics at all four of its campuses to make getting vaccinated as convenient as possible. The federal Centers for Disease Control and the state Department of Health are recommending that all people six months old and older get vaccinated.

“As good public health policy, we at URI are recommending that everyone, students, faculty and staff get vaccinated,” said Chad Henderson, director of Health Services. “Vaccination and good health habits, such as frequent hand washing are the best ways to prevent flu.”

In addition to the vaccination clinics, Henderson and his team have developed a public education program that will repeat many of the messages issued during last year’s H1N1 pandemic.

Last year, those who wanted maximum protection needed two shots—one for seasonal flu and the other for H1N1. Only one shot, which will include H1N1 vaccine and vaccine against other strains, will be needed this flu season. The University has hired the Wellness Company to run the clinics and administer the vaccinations. The company provides wellness services to adults and children across the country.

All of the following clinics are open to students, faculty and staff. You may walk-in or register online at http://thewellcomp.com or link directly here to register using one of the codes listed below for any of the clinics:

Providence Campus (company login – uriprov)

Oct. 4 and Oct. 14, 1:30 to 5 p.m., Providence Campus, Room 242, Washington Street

Oct. 6, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Providence Campus, Room 437 (must be at least 19 years of age)

Alton Jones Campus (company login – uriwg)

Oct. 7, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Alton Jones Campus, Maple Room

Narragansett Bay Campus (company login – urinar)

Oct. 8, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Narragansett Bay Campus, Coastal Institute, large conference room

Kingston Campus (company login – urifac)

Oct. 5, 6, 14 and 15, 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Kingston Campus, Memorial Union, America’s Cup Room (to the rear of the Ram’s Den)

Oct. 8, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Kingston Campus, Memorial Union Ballroom

Oct. 13, 9 a.m. to noon, Kingston Campus, Memorial Union Atrium

To register online, visit http://thewellcomp.com.

Click “Register Now”, then “Flu-Worksite Events”, then enter one of the following “company login” codes listed above for the location you’ll attend: (Providence: uriprov; Alton Jones: uriwg; Narragansett Bay: urinar; Kingston Campus: urifac)

“Despite all the media attention that H1N1 flu received last year, the unfortunate truth is that complications from seasonal flu viruses hospitalize and kill college students across the country every year,” said David R. Gifford, director of the state Department of Health, in a letter to the university. “Because of close living quarters, communal bathrooms and high levels of social activity among your students, the flu will be circulating on your campus again in the coming academic year. Vaccination is the most effective way to limit the spread of the flu and to keep your students in classrooms, on athletic fields, and out of student health centers.”

Gifford wants Rhode Island to be a flu-free state in 2010-2011.

Since last year’s crisis, Henderson said the big challenge would be to convince members of the campus community that maximum participation in prevention efforts is essential. “Our message to everyone will be that if you get the vaccine and follow good health practices you will be healthier and so will the community,” Henderson said. Like last year, Health Services personnel are emphasizing the differences between colds and the flu.

“Flu is characterized by rapid onset of fever, body aches and pain, and severe chills,” said Ellen Reynolds, associate director of Health Services. “A cold usually starts with respiratory symptoms like a sore throat, a runny nose and/or congestion, and usually there is no fever.”

On its website, Health Services recommends six key practices to prevent the flu:

1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others and do not share drinks, utensils, etc.

2. Stay home from work and school and avoid doing errands when you are sick. Don’t return to work until your temperature remains normal for 24 hours.

3. When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.

4. Wash your hands often with soap and water to protect yourself from germs.

5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.

6. Practice other good health behaviors. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.

For further information, go to www.uri.edu/news/h1n1, www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu and www.health.uri.edu.