Update: Vaccine Still Available

January 14, 2010

Federal, state and local officials continue to recommend that college students be immunized against the H1N1 virus. The Student Health Center has plenty of vaccine available. To receive the immunization, students should make an appointment with the Health Center by calling 315-859-4111 during regular business hours. There is no charge to students for the vaccine. Employees may receive the vaccine on Friday, Jan. 22, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the Blood Fitness and Dance Center. No appointments are necessary. The cost is $15, however, the service is free of charge with your MVP card.


Update: Additional H1N1 Vaccine Has Arrived

November 19, 2009

Hamilton has received a second delivery of H1N1 vaccine — 500 doses of nasal spray. Students may make appointments with the Health Center (315-859-4111) to receive the vaccine, which will be administered on a first-come, first-serve basis. A walk-in clinic to administer the vaccine is planned for Tuesday, Dec. 1, from 5-7 p.m. at the Health Center.


Christine Merritt
Director of Student Health Services

Update: H1N1 Immunization Clinics for Higher Risk Students

November 16, 2009

The College has received 200 doses of the H1N1 vaccine and will offer two immunization clinics for students with underlying medical conditions that place them at higher risk for flu-related complications. Clinics will be held Monday, November 16 from 6–8 p.m. and Tuesday, November 17, 2009, from 4-6 p.m. in the Health Center. The vaccine will be available at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis.

Students with any of the following conditions are considered to be at higher risk and are therefore eligible to receive the H1N1 vaccine at the clinic:

  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Cardiac conditions
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Celiac Disease
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Hodgkin's Disease
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Any other immune compromised health concerns not listed above.

Medical records will be reviewed to confirm eligibility to receive the vaccination at this time.

Students who are currently ill must wait until they recover before getting the vaccine.

Students are required to bring their Hamilton College ID card and are asked to wear clothing that allows easy access to their upper arm.

Immunization clinics will be held for the general student population as soon as the additional vaccine ordered by the College becomes available.

It is not necessary to schedule an appointment in advance.

Please feel free to contact the Health Center (315-859-4111) if you have questions.


Christine Merritt
Director of Student Health Services

Update to the Hamilton Community

November 3, 2009

The pace at which new cases of the H1N1 (swine) flu are being reported to the Health Center has slowed. Following a significant outbreak during the early and mid part of last week, fewer new cases were reported over the weekend and on Monday.

Despite the decline in the number of new cases reported to the Health Center, H1N1 is still present on the Hamilton campus, new cases are still being reported, and students and employees should continue to take precautions to avoid becoming infected. Those with the virus must continue to self-isolate until they are fever-free for 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medicine. Students who are confined to their residence hall rooms should have a friend pickup specially prepared meals from one of the dining halls.

On average, students who become infected with the H1N1 virus are symptomatic for about four days, but some feel sick for as few as two days and as long as seven days. It is important to practice good hygiene, especially since those with the virus are most contagious the day before they exhibit symptoms. As was reported in my last update, Hamilton has ordered the H1N1 vaccine, and we will schedule a flu clinic once the product arrives. Additional vaccines for the seasonal flu are also on order.

The staff of the College Health Center, resident advisors, and the custodial staff, among others, deserve our thanks for their extra efforts in helping our community address this outbreak. Students have also expressed their gratitude for the flexibility and concern from faculty members in light of these unusual circumstances.

Please continue to check the H1N1 (swine) flu Web page for important information about prevention, treatment and a list of frequently asked questions that will be updated as necessary.

Nancy Thompson
Dean of Students

Update: Health Center open Saturday and Sunday

October 30, 2009

In light of the current outbreak of influenza-like illness on campus, the Health Center will be open Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m. for students with acute illnesses.  No advance appointment is required.  In addition, as always, EMTs are available to assess student health concerns when the Health Center is closed.

Members of the Hamilton Emergency Response Team ("HERT") continue to meet regularly to monitor and address Hamilton's flu situation. For additional information, please refer to the "Frequently Asked Questions" (and answers) that have been posted to the H1N1 website.

We encourage students who are sick to please take advantage of the meal pick-up system available in the dining halls, which simply requires that a friend show a Hamilton Hill Card. It's important also to get plenty of rest and to stay hydrated. Dean of Faculty Joe Urgo and Associate Dean of Students Karen Brewer have sent a message to faculty members asking that they exercise flexibility with students who are sick.

Please take care of yourself and stay healthy.

Nancy Thompson
Dean of Students

Update to the Hamilton Community

Influenza Now Present on the Hamilton Campus

October 27, 2009

The Student Health Center experienced a large influx of students yesterday presenting flu-like symptoms consistent with the H1N1 virus. Most of the students who sought treatment reported that they began feeling ill over the weekend. Symptoms include fever, a persistent hacking cough, severe headaches and general body aches. The students are all being treated as though they have the H1N1 virus (and one test has come back positive for H1N1), which is now widespread throughout Oneida County. Local health officials have been advised of the outbreak on campus.

Consistent with updated CDC protocols, students suspected of having contracted the H1N1 virus are no longer being isolated, however they have been told to stay in their rooms and get as much bed rest as possible. Students may not return to class or resume their regular activities until they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine. The Dean of Students Office will work with faculty members to help these students stay current with their coursework.

Despite the large number of suspected cases on campus, nearly all of the cases are considered to be mild. Students with underlying health concerns who become symptomatic for the flu should seek treatment as soon as possible. The College has placed an order for the H1N1 vaccine and will schedule a flu shot clinic once the vaccine arrives. Additional information about the H1N1 virus, including updates and advice for avoiding the flu, are posted on the Hamilton Web site [www.hamilton.edu/swineflu].

Nancy Thompson
Dean of Students

Update to the Hamilton Community

September 15, 2009

Late yesterday afternoon, a Hamilton student went to the Health Center with flu-like symptoms consistent with the H1N1 virus. A culture was taken and we expect to have the results in 24-48 hours. In the meantime, as a precaution, the student has been isolated in a private room on campus. Arrangements have been made to have meals delivered to his room and his professors have been contacted.

A new Web page contains information about the virus and the steps you can take to reduce your chances of contracting it. Please familiarize yourself with the symptoms of the flu and seek treatment should you begin to feel ill. Updates about the virus will be posted to that site and further campus announcements will be sent as warranted.

Whether or not this specific case turns out to be positive for H1N1, given the nature of the virus, it is likely we will encounter cases on campus. Please continue to practice good hygiene and take common-sense precautions to reduce the likelihood of contracting the virus. Any student experiencing flu-like symptoms should contact the Health Center promptly.

As a reminder, the College has scheduled a flu shot clinic (students only please) tomorrow in the Health Center. The vaccine is for seasonal flu. A vaccine for the H1N1 virus is still in development.

Nancy Thompson
Dean of Students

H1N1/Swine Flu Precautions and Planning

August 25, 2009

The H1N1 virus, more commonly known as swine flu, continues to concern the public health community. Cases of people coming down with the virus have been reported throughout the summer, during a time when health officials would not expect to see such infections. As students in the northern hemisphere return to school, officials at the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are expecting a second wave of the virus this fall in the U.S. As of this date, there have been no reported cases of the H1N1 virus on the Hamilton campus.

The current severity of the H1N1 virus is classified by the CDC as mild to moderate, but the future spread and severity of the disease is uncertain, according to federal health officials who participated in a briefing on Thursday, August 20. College students are among the groups considered to be at high risk for contracting the disease because of the close proximity in which they live and work.

Consequently, it is important that we take reasonable and prudent precautions. Hamilton continues to monitor developments and has protocols in place should H1N1 be confirmed on campus.

It is important to understand that the swine flu and the seasonal flu are different viruses that may be active at the same time. It is possible to contract neither virus, both viruses, or one and not the other. The symptoms of both forms of influenza are similar: fever, cough, runny or stuffy nose and sore throat. Fatigue, headaches, chills and body aches may also be present. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the H1N1 virus (i.e., swine flu) is a temperature of at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit when other symptoms are present. Students who have a high fever and suspect they may have contracted the H1N1 virus should immediately avoid any contact with others and call the Health Center (315-859-4111) to obtain a diagnosis and, if necessary, a treatment protocol. After hours, please call Hamilton College Emergency Medical Services (HCEMS) at 315-859-4000. In all cases, students with flu-like symptoms will be required to avoid contact with others for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever.

Once the CDC recommends vaccinations should begin for seasonal influenza, we will schedule flu shot clinics for students just as we have done in the past. Scientists are also working to develop a vaccine for the H1N1 virus (i.e., swine flu) but that is not likely to be available until late this fall.

In the meantime, there are safety measures we can all take to minimize the prevalence and severity of influenza on campus. These steps are mostly common sense precautions that emphasize social distancing and good personal hygiene:

Practice Good Hand Hygiene

Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners containing at least 60 percent alcohol are also effective. It's a good idea to clean commonly touched surfaces such as doorknobs, keyboards and remote controls. The College has added additional alcohol-based sanitizers and antibacterial soap dispensers throughout campus.

Practice Respiratory Etiquette

The flu spreads from one person to another in the droplets produced by coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow or shoulder, not your hand. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth in case the virus is on your hands.


Stay home if you are sick. Working with the Dean of Students Office and your RA, the College will make arrangements to help you keep up with your studies and to bring meals to your room. In no instance will a student with flu-like symptoms and a fever be permitted to attend classes or eat in the dining hall. We all must take personal responsibility for helping to slow the spread of the virus and to protect others from becoming sick. This is also a good time to visit the Dean of Students Web site to update your personal evacuation plan.

We are planning with the assumption that H1N1 will be present on the Hamilton campus at some point this fall, but with the precautions we have in place we hope to minimize the extent of the outbreak. We will continue to monitor developments from federal, state and county officials and will provide updates to the campus as necessary. In the meantime, you may wish to monitor the situation at the CDC Web site. Pertinent information is also available from the American College Health Association.

Christine Merritt, NP/PA-C
Director of Student Health

Message from the Hamilton Emergency Response Team (HERT)

May 1, 2009

The steering committee of the Hamilton Emergency Response Team has met several times this week to monitor developments pertaining to the swine flu. We will continue assessing the situation as long as necessary. Based on current information and conversations with health officials, our plan is to proceed with college operations as usual. However, there are precautions we all can take as outlined by Director of Student Health Services Christine Merritt on Tuesday:

  • Increase the duration and frequency with which you wash your hands. The College has alcohol-based sanitizers and antibacterial soap dispensers located throughout campus.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve, not into your hands. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth in case the virus is on your hands.
  • Do not share utensils, glasses, bottles or any other similar product.
  • Get adequate sleep and eat nutritiously, especially as we approach the end of the semester.

There are no suspected cases of swine flu on the Hamilton campus. Nevertheless, students and employees should continue to exercise good hygiene and see a health care provider if symptoms appear.

This situation provides an opportunity for the College to revisit its planning in the event circumstances worsen:

  • Students should review and update their personal evacuation plan online
  • Faculty members should consider alternatives to final exams and papers in the unlikely event campus operations are disrupted.

In addition, since the College will be welcoming a large number of guests to campus in the coming weeks, we will provide additional hand sanitizers and hand wipes where large groups will gather.

All of the steps recommended by HERT are precautionary, and we will issue updates as appropriate. Meanwhile, you may wish to monitor the situation at the Centers for Disease Control Web site or the New York State Department of Health Web site.

Swine Flu Update

April 27, 2009

As reported in the media, the extent of a swine flu outbreak in Mexico is being monitored and steps are already being taken globally to address the situation. The World Health Organization has declared this event "a public health emergency of international concern," and in the U.S., officials on Sunday declared a "public health emergency" in response to 20 confirmed cases of swine flu in this country, including eight in New York City. All of the infected people in the U.S. displayed mild Influenza-like symptoms and have recovered. According to The New York Times, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano characterized the emergency declaration as "standard operating procedure."

Health officials are currently recommending that people practice common-sense precautions to protect themselves:

  • Increase the frequency with which you wash your hands. The College has alcohol-based sanitizers and antibacterial soap dispensers located throughout campus.
  • Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth in case the virus is on your hands.
  • Do not share utensils, glasses, bottles or any other similar product.
  • Employees who contract flu-like symptoms should see their primary care physician and remain home; students should visit the health center.

The symptoms for the swine flu are similar to those for other flu strains and include the following:

Acute respiratory illness:

  • Rhinorrhea or nasal congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fever or feverishness

Influenza-like illness:

  • Fever in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, plus cough or sore throat.

Hamilton has procedures in place to address outbreaks of disease and illness and receives regular notices from the Oneida County and New York State Departments of Health. At present, officials are recommending only that people practice good hygiene and visit their health care providers if they experience flu-like symptoms. We are monitoring the situation and will provide updates as necessary.

Christine Merritt, NP/PA-C
Director of Student Health