Free H1N1 Vaccines offered during spring semester

In Campus News, News

For the Daily Titan

Little more than three months ago, anxieties were high over the fast-spreading H1N1 virus, commonly referred to as “swine flu.” The World Health Organization still categorizes H1N1 as a pandemic.

Cal State Fullerton’s Student Health and Counseling Center (SHCC) held a free H1N1 vaccine clinic for all students and faculty members on Feb. 3, in an effort to reach students and faculty and help curb the spread of the virus on campus. Another immunization clinic for H1N1 will be held on Feb. 11 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Experts say they best way to protect against the virus is to get vaccinated. Earlier in the flu season, shots were only administered to those with extreme susceptibility due to a shortage in supply. Now, vaccines are readily available to anyone who wishes to be immunized.

“It is really important for people to come,” said Penny Weismuller, assistant nursing professor. “The age group that is most affected are adolescents and college students, ages 15 to 25. The college age group has the most cases of H1N1 per 100,000 cases.”

The Feb. 11 immunization clinic will be held in the Titan Student Union, Pavilion C.

Students and faculty will be asked to show their student ID and provide their campus-wide ID in order to be eligible.

A screening test is conducted prior to receiving the vaccine in the form of an injection. Those who are currently experiencing flu-like symptoms may not qualify to receive the vaccine, along with those who are allergic to egg shells. Allergies to egg shells may cause a reaction due to the flu vaccine, as it contains some amount of egg protein. If a woman is pregnant, it is asked that she have a note of consent from her OBGYN before receiving the vaccine.

“We had a couple of hundred cases of the flu on campus, but only about half were confirmed,” said SHCC Physician Dr. Lauren Vu. “Spring is usually a more typical time for students to get infected, because they’re more mobile. For prevention, this is the time to do it.”

Although the trend of the H1N1 virus has been on its way down on the pandemic curve, experts agree there is definitely a possibility that there could be another peak in H1N1 viruses as the season progresses. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the H1N1 influenza virus continues to be the dominant flu virus in circulation around the globe. CDC officials stress that just because flu activity seems to be lessening, does not mean Americans can afford to assume the pandemic is over.

Seventy vaccines were administered during last Wednesday’s immunization clinic, and about 600 were administered during finals week in December. The Student Health Services also received an additional shipment of 3,000 vaccines that can be administered through June 2010. Students are encouraged to schedule an appointment with the SHCC to receive a vaccination.

“I had this notion that we would give out 1,000 vaccines, so we were disappointed with the turn out,” said Kathy Spofford, associate director of the SHCC.

Some students do understand the importance of receiving the H1N1 vaccination, especially now that it is more accessible at no cost.

“I got (vaccinated) because my brother had the H1N1 virus, so his doctor recommended that we all get vaccinated,” said Mariana Arreola, 21, business major. “I believe students should get it to protect themselves because I’ve seen how debilitating (the swine flu) can be.”

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