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H1N1 vaccine to begin Nov.

Published: October 30, 2009
Section: Front Page


Delivery of the H1N1 flu vaccine to the Brandeis Health Center has been delayed, with H1N1 vaccination clinics now expected to start in mid-to-late November.

Dean of Student Life Rick Sawyer originally estimated that the vaccine would be available on-campus by mid-to-late October, in an e-mail sent to the student body on Sept. 11.

Subsequent e-mails sent by Sawyer indicated that delivery of the vaccine had been delayed.

“Production delays by the five companies manufacturing seasonal and H1N1 vaccine have been longer than expected,” said Director of the Health Center Dr. Debra Poaster in an e-mail to the Hoot. “We hope to have our doses by mid to late November.”

These delays are not unique to Brandeis and have had an impact nationwide. Only 30 million doses of the vaccine will have been made available by the end of October—out of a total of 250 million that the national government has ordered.

Massachusetts initially expected to have 1.2 million doses of the vaccine by the end of October. Instead, only 700,000 doses will be available by then. These doses are primarily being sent to obstetric and pediatric practices, as pregnant women and children under the age of 18 are being prioritized. Emergency health care workers and children’s caregivers are also among the first to receive the vaccine. People under the age of 24—a group which includes most Brandeis undergraduates—will be next in line.

“Boston-area college health groups have been lobbying the state to get some of this early vaccine, given the reality of dormitory style living, and we still hope this will happen,” Poaster said.

“We originally ordered 3,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine in early September when the first orders were taken. [Once they arrive], we have plans in place to run large clinics to give out those vaccine doses in an expeditious manner.” If the vaccine arrives in small amounts as opposed to one large allotment, clinics may be prioritized so that those at higher risk—students with asthma, diabetes, and those who are immunosuppressed or on steroids—will get the vaccine first, she said.

The health center expects to receive only the injectable form of the vaccine. The nasal H1N1 vaccine, which people between the ages of 2 and 49 without underlying health problems can also use, will not be available on campus. Additional doses of the seasonal flu vaccine will also continue to become available, though the production of the vaccine has also been delayed. The Health Center ordered 1,000 doses, which is twice the amount they have given out in the past. Between 500 and 600 students have received the seasonal flu vaccine thus far.

“We have been told that our remaining [seasonal flu] vaccine order is being shipped in small allotments, and we expect an additional small amount in the next two weeks,” Poaster said.

The last of the state’s seasonal flu supply is expected to arrive by the end of November, allowing those who have yet to get the seasonal flu shot to get it before flu season starts in full force mid-winter.

Though less than 15 percent of the ordered doses of H1N1 vaccines are now available, the Center for Disease Control also expects that everyone who wishes to get vaccinated will be able to do so by January.