Fewer students report flu-like symptoms

Nearly 600 students have reported flu-like symptoms to the Student Health Service this semester, but the number of sick students reporting symptoms has dramatically decreased in recent weeks, an SHS official said this week.

SHS screened 23 cases of influenza-like illness during the week of Oct. 19, SHS Director Dr. Isabel Goldenberg said. This number is down from 153 reported cases during the third week of September, she said.

Goldenberg said she does not know whether fewer students are contracting influenza-like illness, or if they are merely not reporting their symptoms to SHS, which has been tracking the number of cases since the beginning of the school year.

“The Student Health Service is one of the medical facilities where students may seek medical attention. Some students may have private doctors or go to The George Washington Emergency Department,” Goldenberg said in an e-mail.

She added that “some students may have mild symptoms and not seek medical attention.”

Goldenberg said fall is not considered the peak flu season, and she expects flu cases to increase in January and February.

“We are expecting high numbers then,” Goldenberg said.

While SHS has screened fewer students for influenza-like illness in recent weeks, Goldenberg said the best prevention of the flu is to vaccinate as many people as possible.

Goldenberg said GW will most likely receive the H1N1 vaccine in the second or third week of November, in time for the winter peak in flu cases.

She said she does not know the quantity of vaccines the University will receive, but said the GW community will receive updates on their arrival and method of distribution through campus advisories, Web sites and The Hatchet.

She added that the University is also awaiting shipment for seasonal influenza vaccinations from multiple distributors, after SHS exhausted its 4,500 doses of vaccination during three free flu shot clinics at the end of September.

Goldenberg said there is currently a nationwide shortage of seasonal influenza vaccinations, and the University will update the community when more vaccinations arrive.

“Manufacturing of the vaccine has been delayed,” Goldenberg said. “Our University, like many other campuses or medical facilities, is waiting for delivery of the previously ordered batches.”

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