Few tap into large supply of H1N1 vaccine
November 23, 2009 —
When an H1N1-virus vaccine became available at SVSU, many planners expected it to be welcomed with relief. But vaccine clinics in the past few weeks have reported low numbers of visits.
SVSU’s supply originally consisted of 1,000 doses, but only 93 students, faculty and staff members went to the first clinic. In the ones since, numbers have continued to decline. During the last clinic, Nov. 18, 61 vaccines were administered.
The University initially advertised that the vaccine was available on a first-come, first-serve basis to the age- 24-and-under population, as doses were expected to go quickly beginning at 7 a.m. in a reserved section of the Ryder Center on Nov. 10.
Some students say the vaccine isn’t worth it, and others fear it might cause problems or pose further risk.
“The vaccine seems to have more of a danger for people than it’s really worth,” said Lauren Boulton, a biology sophomore. “I’d rather take the risk of getting H1N1 instead of having a live culture messing with my body.”
The vaccine being administered at SVSU is a live attenuated intranasal vaccine. A weakened form of the H1N1 virus is administered as a nasal spray to prompt the body to build resistance to it. Unlike the seasonal flu, the H1N1 virus is a new strain that most people have no immunity to fight off. This has caused some to worry about the vaccine’s safety.
Joyce White, a nurse practitioner at the University Health Center, says students should reconsider their opinions and not wait until getting sick to take action.
“The reason we’ve been holding these clinics is because H1N1’s target age group includes students who are attending college,” she said. White added that most reported cases came from those who lived in group settings; for college students, the risk of its spreading rises with dorms and classrooms.
The University Health Center plans to have at least one more vaccination clinic before the end of the semester, but it is still unsure how many students will show up.
According to an update from the Michigan Department of Community Health, 559 schools in the state had been closed through the week of Nov. 12. Many of these closings were district- wide and lasted for days.
In Saginaw County, the department reported 996 cases of illnesses that included flu-like symptoms during the week of Nov. 8 to 14.
In addition, 258 cases of suspected flu cases were reported in Bay County and 33 cases were reported in Midland County during the same week.
Despite these numbers, some SVSU students remain skeptical.
“I don’t even get the regular flu shot,” Boulton said. “I just feel that getting the flu isn’t that big of a hindrance for me if I happen to get sick.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site, the H1N1 vaccine is prepared using the same facilities and processes as the licensed seasonal flu vaccine.
Communication and sociology senior Meghan Bamberger believes that common sense and good hygiene are the key to staying healthy.
“Honestly, if I just wash my hands, use hand sanitizer and don’t have close contact with a lot of people, I think I’ll be fine,” she said.
As more information becomes available about additional H1N1 vaccination clinics on campus, continue checking the University Health Center’s Web page at www.svsu.edu/universty- health-center.