H1N1 Vaccines Expected to Arrive at Isham by October

Phillips Academy’s battle against the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu, has carried over from last spring term and into the new school year. Richard Keller, School Physician, announced during Wednesday’s All-School Meeting that H1N1 vaccines will hopefully be available in October, along with vaccines for the seasonal flu, which is anticipated to arrive in the next several weeks. Isham Health Center had initially planned to vaccinate students for the seasonal flu during registration. “We just thought it would be an easier way to [vaccinate the students],” said Keller, but the vaccines were unavailable. Keller announced that the vaccines would instead be offered in Paresky Commons. According to Keller, while seasonal flu spreads throughout the course of the season, the spread of swine flu would be much quicker, which could possibly overwhelm Isham Health Center’s capacity to assist ill students. Keller also said that children and adults in their early 20’s are most likely to be susceptible to swine flu, a range that includes all PA students. Swine flu “still has the potential to mutate and become a more serious disease,” he added. Keller explained that while one patient may have a mild case, another person can contract a much more serious case by the end of the month. The nation’s Center for Disease Control (CDC), however, has relaxed its guidelines about H1N1 from a one-week isolation policy to one where students can return to their day-to-day activities after 24 hours with no symptoms. “The [CDC] realized that the initial rule wasn’t practical to enforce,” Keller said. While no athletic competition events will be cancelled for the time being, Taylor Hall Kisses, a favorite booth among students, will not be offered at this year’s Quad Day, scheduled for Sunday. Peter Washburn, Dean of West Quad South, informed WQS at a cluster meeting that Taylor Hall Kisses would be called off due to the risk of swine flu. Meetings will continue to be held in order to discuss the present swine flu situation, a practice that started during the spring. “A small group of administrators meets on a regular basis and is in daily email communication to share new information about H1N1,” said Rebecca Sykes, Associate Head of School. Keller said that the core group consisted of Keller, Sykes, Paul Murphy, Dean of Students and Residential Life, and Maureen Nunez, Director of Risk Management and Development Services. On occasion, faculty members such as Temba Maqubela, Dean of Faculty, have joined the meetings. “The group meets regularly and plans to be able to respond to any contingencies,” said Keller. Students have been welcomed back to campus by posters all over campus, including dormitories, with slogans splashed across the page, such as: “Friday night. And you’ve got a date with a box of tissues. Keep your hands clean.” Hand sanitizer has been noticeably placed in a variety of places, including classrooms and Commons. Both these practices help to stress several of the simple but effective rules to decrease the risk of contracting swine flu, including hand-washing, disinfecting with Purell hand sanitizer and avoiding unnecessary physical contact. After Sykes sent emails with information regarding both the swine flu and the seasonal flu to the parents of the Andover community prior to the start of school, several responded with apprehension regarding the situation. “Parents have wanted to know what we have planned and have been generally satisfied that we have thought through what we would do to prevent and to respond to an outbreak,” said Sykes. “We’ve done pretty much all we can on community prevention and awareness,” said Keller.