The student newspaper of the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) says that despite ongoing local preparations (even on campus) for a potential avian flu pandemic, "many UNO students remain complacent and unconcerned about the deadly disease."
"I understand that it is a very big issue, but as an individual, what can I do about it?" said Rose Morgan, a sophomore music education major.
Even students traveling to Europe in the spring with the UNO wind ensemble are not worried.
"I'm not that worried about it because there are not a lot of cases," said Jeff Smolinski, a freshman Pre-nursing major. "They will probably find a way to combat it."
"I would not travel to the Middle East or Asia without first having full knowledge of the means to do what is needed in order to prevent myself from contracting [the Avian Flu]," said Joe Harris, a junior education major. "But I don't worry too much about the bird flu in general; I don't feel threatened by it, because I don't think it is going to get to where we are."
There you have it - one feels powerless; the others don't think it's a problem anyway. (And one of these is pursuing a medical career!)
"What do you expect? They're just college kids."
That's true. But....
- College kids get sick, too.
- College kids spread germs in close-quarter dormitories, apartment buildings, classroom buildings, cafeterias, gymnasiums, etc.
- College kids often are some distance from home and family.
And college kids are in their own world. Sometimes they need help turning their attention to other areas.
Perhaps most importantly, college kids can be part of the solution, part of the planning. But first, they have to understand there is a real risk ... and that they can do something about it.
That's called risk communications, and it should be part of your organization's pandemic planning.