Health Clinic Provides Swine Flu Vaccine to High-Risk Students

One hundred H1N1 vaccines were administered to USF students at St. Mary’s Medical Center on Nov. 6. Only students who were determined to be high-risk subjects were vaccinated.

In order to have been vaccinated, students “needed to have shown proof of pregnancy, asthma, diabetes, or another pre-existing or chronic medical condition,” said Karmal Harb, Director of Health Promotion Services. Harb said nursing students undergoing clinicals were also considered high-risk subjects due to their face-to-face contact with patients.

The vaccine was issued to the USF Health Clinic through the San Francisco Department of Public Health, which receives all H1N1 vaccines directly from the California Department of Public Health.

Harb said that USF Health Promotion Services has requested 5,000 vaccines for future immunizations, although there is no promise or deadline for this request. Harb explained, “there is a worldwide shortage of this vaccine, so, we have no idea when it will be distributed.”

If the request is answered, all immunizations will be provided through Maxim Healthcare Services, a private healthcare company with experience in vaccine delivery.

“All students will have the opportunity to be vaccinated, to meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that all people under 24 are vaccinated,” Harb said.

Despite the CDC’s suggestion, research has assured that the threat of swine flu is no greater than the traditional seasonal flu for people without chronic or pre-existing medical conditions.

On September 21, USF Health Promotion Services vaccinated 220 students for seasonal influenza. The turnout this year was more than triple the outcome in previous years. Harb attributed this to “heightened awareness because of the media’s treatment of swine flu last spring.”

“I got vaccinated in September for the regular flu, and if I had the opportunity for swine flu I would, as well,” said USF sophomore Jack Taylor. “I don’t think it is anything serious unless you have another medical issue. In April and May when H1N1 first made headlines I was a bit freaked out, but it all seems under control now,” said Taylor when asked abou the seriousness of the swing flu.   Other USF students did not seem concerned about getting the vaccine. Freshman Mary Heapes does not plan to be vaccinated for either strand. “Both of the types of flu aren’t a big threat to me because I’m relatively healthy. I’d rather not put the vaccine in my body if I don’t need to,” she said.

“I’m pretty sure I don’t need to get vaccinated for swine flu because I don’t have any medical issues going on. I don’t think I would for the traditional flu either – generally, I think my immune system is strong enough to handle that kind of stuff,” said sophomore Austin Montanari.

Harb recognized that the student body seems aware of general information surrounding swine flu.  Still, he cautioned students to be vigilant of the emails sent out by Health Promotion Services about the availability of both flu vaccines at clinics throughout San Francisco. He also urged students to avoid contact with people with flu-like symptoms, and to regularly wash and sanitize hands.

For more information about H1N1 and other vaccines visit the San Francisco Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites

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