With fewer than anticipated H1N1 virus vaccinations expected to arrive on campus any day now, CSU’s Health Network launched a program Wednesday to ensure people at high risk for contracting the flu will receive the vaccination first.
While a CSU health official said vaccinations would likely be available to everyone in December, it is necessary that pregnant women, the parents or caretakers of infants younger than 6 months and students and staff with high-risk medical conditions be vaccinated first.
“We want to give it to people who need it the most,” said Lisa Duggan, a registered nurse and infection control nurse for the Health Network.
Any person who falls into the following high-risk categories, based on recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is encouraged to register online (http://flu.colostate.edu) to receive an e-mail from the university when the first shipment of vaccines is delivered to Hartshorn Health Center.
Pregnant women (any trimester),
The parents of infants younger than 6 months.
Any caretakers of infants younger than 6 months, such as nannies or day care employees, and
Students and staff with high-risk medical conditions identified by the CDC, such as asthma, autoimmune illnesses and other respiratory conditions, among others.
Originally, the state Health Department was expecting to receive between 13,000 and 14,000 vaccinations from the CDC but learned that its supply was cut short to between 2,000 and 3,000, Duggan said. Consequently, CSU felt the affects of the “short supply” and was forced to limit the first vaccinations to people in the high-risk categories.
If the number of people who qualify as priority candidates through the system exceeds the number of vaccinations that arrive in CSU’s first shipment, the Health Network would administer the drug to pregnant women and caretakers of young children first, Duggan said. As more doses of the vaccine come in, more individuals on the priority patient list would be contacted.
The flu vaccination is currently available in both a shot and nasal spray form.
Duggan said the Colorado Health Department gave her the impression that the majority of vaccinations in the first shipment would be shots.
People with pre-existing respiratory conditions, including asthma, and people older than 50 should not use the nasal mist vaccination, commonly known as FluMist, Duggan said.
Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved FluMist for use by people ages 2 to 49-years-old, but Duggan hopes the FDA will eventually expand the age range.
Since the start of the semester, more than 500 students have physically reported their flu symptoms to Harshorn Health Center. This number does not include those students who have reported their symptoms using the university’s self-reporting system on RamWeb.
Echoing the sentiments of other Health Network physicians, Duggan said though it’s “alarming” younger people are affected by H1N1 –/the seasonal flu typically affects the older demographic –, people should take into account that the seasonal flu kills on average 136,000 Americans.
The H1N1 vaccine is being provided through the Health Network to CSU students and employees free of charge, a CSU spokesperson Dell Rae Moellenberg said in an e-mail to the Collegian.
Though it has temporarily run out of seasonal flu shots, the Health Network is expecting a limited number of vaccines sometime in November. Seasonal flu shots are also available at a number of pharmacies and medical offices throughout Fort Collins and Larimer County.
News Managing Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.