July 21, 2018 | ° F

Health services to distribute H1N1 nasal sprays to U.

Clarification: Because the risk to infants is so great, among the first to receive the vaccine are those caring for infants less than 6 months old. Faculty, staff, and students who live with or provide care for an infant can receive the nasal spray today.

Free H1N1 vaccination nasal sprays are available today from 1 to 4:30 p.m. in the Busch Campus Center.

But due to a limited supply from the state, Health Services is allocating their 1,200 doses of the vaccine in a tier system, said Executive Director of Health Services Melodee Lasky.

Those who are eligible to receive the vaccine today include individuals who are between the ages of 2 and 49 years old and potentially exposed to the H1N1 virus, such as health care workers, members of EMS groups or at on-campus daycare centers.

"When the [Centers for Disease Control] … started talking about releasing the vaccine, they were very clear … that they would release the vaccine based upon their priority groupings," Lasky said. "Unfortunately we got the nasal vaccine, which knocks out a large group of the highest-priority folks, so they can't get [the vaccine]."

The vaccine has been created in two forms: a live, attenuated intranasal vaccine and an inactivated flu shot. The nasal spray cannot be administered to pregnant women, those with chronic medical problems or those living with someone who is severely immuno-compromised, because those people already have compromised immune systems that would not be able to fight the LAIV, Lasky said.

"Since we can't give [LAIV] to everyone and we don't want a free for all, we asked what groups would make sense based upon a public health initiative," she said.

As of yesterday afternoon, a few inactivated flu shots were available in the state, Lasky said, but the University has not received any.

"We were told that the Health Department got some of the injectable," she said.

Although a more massive arrival of the inactivated flu shot is as yet unknown, the University will continue to receive vaccinations as they become available, said Assistant Director of Health Services Dorothy Kozlowski.

Typically the University would have to wait to deplete its supply of the vaccine before reordering, Kozlowski said.

"Because we [the University] are such a huge provider, I was able to order before we have been able to administer the vaccine," she said.

All totaled, the state expects to give 40,000 doses of the vaccine to the University, which will continue to provide vaccination clinics for as long as the vaccine is available, Lasky said. When the next shipment is received, Health Services will administer the vaccine in the same tier system required by the CDC.

"Nobody seems to be getting 40,000 doses at once, so we do know that this will be a several week process," Kozlowski said. "As we receive and input the data, then hopefully we will be able to order and get another large shipment back."

Although several students have noted that they do not plan on receiving the vaccine, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said vaccination is the best defense a student has against contracting this strain of H1N1.

"The vaccine campaign was started knowing no one had any built-in immunity that we could determine," Sebelius said. "We know from our 21st century public health experience that vaccination is by far the best defense."

Sara Gretina

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