KSU responds to spread of swine flu

Amber Wade

University implements emergency system

In response to the increased spread of swine flu, Kent State has activated its Emergency Operation Center.

“It’s an aid in dealing with emergencies,” said Emily Vincent, director of university media relations. “It’s typically used by police and fire in some sort of emergency situation. It allows people in the structure to respond and make decisions quickly.”

The system is typically only used for short periods of time, but in this case it could be in place for months, depending on how long the H1N1 virus is of concern, Vincent said.

Business at the university will continue as normal, though the EOC will be involved with operations and planning all in relation to the swine flu, transitioning from preparation for the virus to taking action on what is happening.

“It really doesn’t affect students,” Vincent said. “They won’t know any difference in their day-to-day lives.”

The Incident Command Structure within the EOC will allow decisions to be made faster than they could have been made in normal circumstances.

These decisions will include how to distribute the H1N1 vaccine when the university receives it. Kent State has been approved to receive and distribute the vaccine, but it is unknown when the university will receive it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for who should receive the H1N1 vaccine include pregnant women, health care professionals and college-aged students.

“We have been expecting H1N1 flu to reach our campus community and have been preparing for it,” said Mary Reeves, director of University Health Services, in a post on the Kent flu preparedness Web site. “Now that we know it’s here, we need a higher level of planning and implementation, which includes formalizing our planning process to distribute the H1N1 vaccine when we receive it.”

Vincent said the decision was made based on the number of appointments and patients coming to the DeWeese Health Center. This is following the decision made by the Portage County Health Department, which enacted a similar system. Ohio is listed as a state with widespread swine flu activity.

Contact health reporter Amber Wade at [email protected].