Use of JagAlert/IU-Notify System for Flu Vaccine Notification
January 14, 2010
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In the JagAlert Policies and Procedures Guide that was established in 2008 for the use of the IU-Notify system and other related communications systems on the IUPUI campus, it clearly states the following:
“There are two categories of notices for which JagAlert should be utilized: Emergency and Urgent Situation.
a.Emergency – An incident or condition, expected or unexpected, that threatens life or safety and requires immediate action.
b.Urgent Situation – An incident or condition that does not pose an immediate threat to life or safety, but that is of a nature where timely receipt of information or instructions may directly affect the well-being of the recipient. This includes expected and future hazards.”
The H1N1 influenza virus created a pandemic, the likes of which have not been encountered in almost 50 years. As pandemics go in the past several hundred years, H1N1 is a fairly mild one. However, those who have experienced this virus will testify that it is an incredibly miserable experience. In numerous cases, it was a life-threatening (and sometimes fatal) experience. As much as H1N1/pandemic influenza has faded from most everyone’s daily concern, it still remains one of the largest threats that exist to humans (and to birds and pigs for that matter).
When considering this virus, it is important to note the mutational nature of viruses in general. Why do you need a new flu shot every year? Why do people still contract influenza viruses at all? Because viruses are constantly changing. The H1N1 version of an influenza virus was created from a genetic mutation that combined swine, bird, and human influenza viruses. People didn’t have any immunity to this new virus, which is why it became a pandemic. Because of this mutational nature, H1N1 has a strong possibility of mutating again. Imagine a recombination of H1N1 and the deadly H5N1, which could be both easily transmissible and extremely fatal. Possible? Of course. And not only possible, but fairly likely.
The IUPUI Office of Emergency Preparedness and other IUPUI departments are committed to not only responding to emergencies but preparing for them – and in cases such as this – even preventing them. Increasing the number of people with some degree of immunity to a novel virus helps everyone – not just you, but your families, friends, and the IUPUI community. We aren’t just looking at what happened in the past. We are focused on helping the future. Pandemics historically have three waves. For H1N1, the first wave was in April/May 2009, the second this past fall, and the third is yet to come. We don’t know if the third wave’s virus will be exactly the same as the first two waves, or if it will have slightly drifted genetically (the correct term is antigenic drift) so that it becomes increasingly harmful or fatal. Because of this possibility, offering flu vaccine shots on campus is not just a convenience – it’s a serious matter of life and death.
Therefore, the Office of Emergency Preparedness deemed the situation an “Urgent Situation” under the existing guide for usage of the JagAlert/IU-Notify system. The system proved its worth today. During numerous surveys (large group and individual) conducted today, during the first day of the large vaccine clinic (called a POD – Point of Distribution), nearly 100% of the persons who were there getting H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccine shots were there specifically because they had received the JagAlert/IU-Notify notification via e-mail or text the day before. More than 600 people were vaccinated in just one day (total of 763 vaccinations) because they were notified in a timely manner of a vaccine that could protect them from a potentially deadly virus. That is very strong evidence that our use of JagAlert/IU-Notify was right on target.
If someone does not wish to receive notices of incidents or threats to their person, or to their loved ones/friends/colleagues, they are not obligated to do so, except through their university e-mail. However, it is in everyone’s best interest that you do receive the notices, especially through text messaging, so that you can take action to protect yourselves and others in the event of an emergency or an urgent situation. It is my office’s responsibility to understand threats to the IUPUI community and to communicate those threats in the most efficient and effective way possible. We have partnered with a number of departments/units throughout IUPUI and the IU system to provide you with timely information that can help keep you safe and healthy through a variety of venues, so that you will be notified when it counts. Redundancy is our key word – you may receive a message 10 ways, which is just fine if all systems are working, and completely essential if the first 9 systems fail and you receive the message only once.
We thank everyone who received their flu vaccine shots today, and we encourage those who did not to visit the fourth floor of the Campus Center tomorrow between 10 am and 2 pm to get their shots. They are free of charge, and all persons who receive a vaccine shot also receive a coupon for a free 24-ounce drink from the Campus Center. Vaccine is also available during work hours through IUPUI Health Services in Coleman Hall, for those who cannot make it to the Campus Center tomorrow. We appreciate everyone who is helping IUPUI and IU to be as safe and healthy as possible.