Pandemic InfluenzaIn April 2009, human infection with a new strain of H1N1 Influenza was confirmed in Mexico. Within weeks, human infections spread to the United States and Canada, among other countries, and on June 11, 2009, Dr. Margaret Chan of the World Health Organization raised the level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 5 to phase 6 - the highest phase of pandemic alert.
The British Columbia Institute of Technology continues to monitor the H1N1 Influenza situation, is working closely with public health authorities and will continue to follow their lead and direction.
It is to be expected that an increase in the number of cases will occur throughout the 2009/2010 flu season.
The following information is meant to inform the BCIT community of the evolving situation, the steps BCIT is taking, and those that community members can take to ensure that the spread of influenza is minimized.
On October 21, 2009, at the request of the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Minister of Heath approved the sale of the ArepanrixTM H1N1 vaccine. Following the announcement, an extensive roll out of the vaccine has been initiated in British Columbia. Get general information on the H1N1 vaccineVaccination roll-outs have started in local health authorities for those most at risk for the H1N1 flu virus. For more information, use the Flu Clinic Locator or call your local public health unit or your family physician.
In addition, BCIT Student Health Services will be offering both the H1N1 and seasonal influenza vaccination. Please go to the Student Health Services website for information regarding when these vaccinations will be available at BCIT.
The main route of transmission of H1N1 Influenza appears to be similar to seasonal influenza, via droplets that are expelled by speaking, sneezing or coughing.
PrecautionsThe precautions to prevent exposure to, and infection with, H1N1 Influenza are similar to those used to prevent seasonal influenza and include:
- avoid touching your mouth and nose.
- clean hands thoroughly with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand rub.
- avoid close contact with people who might be ill.
- reduce the time spent in crowded settings, if possible.
- improve airflow in your living space by opening windows.
- practise good health habits including adequate sleep, eating nutritious food, and keeping physically active.
Similar to those associated with seasonal flu, H1N1 symptoms include:
If your symptoms worsen or you experience difficulty breathing or serious shortness of breath, it is important to seek medical attention.
It is suggested that all BCIT students follow these recommendations:
- If you are ill, please stay home.
- For short term illnesses less than five days, BCIT is temporarily suspending its policy requiring a doctor's note to excuse the absence. This will be monitored and adjusted as appropriate.
- In all absentee cases, students must contact their instructor, Program Head or Chief Instructor to make plans to accommodate an absence.
- Extended absences will be dealt with on a case by case basis by the programs.
For those students in programs where attendance is regulated by a third party, we ask that you refer to your Program Head or Chief Instructor regarding attendance and/or accommodations.
BCIT employees who think they may have the flu should advise their supervisor or instructor and call the HealthLinkBC advice line, 8-1-1.
As with any contagious illness, the Institute encourages people who are sick to exercise good judgement and avoid potentially jeopardizing the health of others.
Please access the Student Health Services for information on the H1N1 vaccine and to get answers to commonly asked questions about H1N1 Influenza.For more information please see the BCIT Emergency Management, BC Centre for Disease Control, Public Health Agency of Canada or the World Health Organization website.