Over 90 percent of flu cases have been reported as H1N1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this number could possibly be as high as 99 percent of cases. With these numbers many facilities are no longer been testing specifically for H1N1 but are assuming and providing treatment for it. The Health Center does not have any totals of individuals infected for this reason. Students watch their peers become sick and await the arrival of the vaccine.
However, there are steps that must be taken before students can receive the vaccine. This begins with obtaining the necessary funding for production.
The Obama administration and Congress have allotted nearly $10 billion for the H1N1 vaccinations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site federal funding is for the purchase of the H1N1 vaccine and the states are receiving funding for vaccination efforts from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
After funding was provided the vaccine was developed by five companies. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services listed CSL Biotherapies, MedImmune, Novartis, sanofi Pasteur and GlaxoSmithKline as the companies. GlaxoSmithKline was the only company who failed to receive approval from the FDA.
Once the developers have the vaccine approved it must be distributed to the nation depending on supply and demand.
Michelle Shoresman, Emergency Preparedness Program Manager from the Health Department, said the San Luis Obispo County Health Department began receiving early shipments of the vaccine in the beginning of October. These were small amounts of the vaccine, which were given to a few pediatricians. They received the first installments of their orders, as they are at the top of the priority list.
“We are hoping to receive around 40,000 doses around the end of October,” Shoresman said. According to the U.S. Census Bureau as of 2008 there were 265,297 people in San Luis Obispo County. “We are at the whim of distribution process for receiving the vaccination.”
Although there are two types of the vaccine being offered the Health Center will only receive the type delivered by injection. The injection contains a dead strain of the virus and is said to be slightly more effective. However, for pregnant women, children between six months and two years and adults over 49 must receive the vaccination through a shot. One shot will be sufficient for all except children between six months and two years.
The people who have received the vaccine already have not shown adverse reactions that can be isolated and concluded to be a result of the vaccine.
However, due to the pressing issue the clinical trials for H1N1 were done on thousands of people. Rare side effects might not have shown up in the population tested.
Shari Roan of HealthandSurvival.com brings up the pandemics of the decade and how they relate to our current situation. This reminds some of the swine flu scare of 1976 when days after the vaccine was released it was found to increase the risk of a rare neurological condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome.
This is when the immune system attacks the nervous system and can cause temporary paralysis and can be fatal. Ever since the resulting deaths resulting people have become leery of vaccines. Roan also said that about 500 people developed the syndrome and 25 of them died.
This was shown recently in comments. Talk show host Bill Maher wrote on Twitter that anyone who received the vaccine were “idiots.” He also said he “did not believe that healthy people were vulnerable to dying from the new H1N1 virus.”
Linda Bergthold of the Huffington Post said, “Maher said he didn’t think pregnant women needed to get the vaccine. He is WRONG. Lives could be lost over this unscientific “opinion” of Bill Maher.”
His statement also contradicts the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s release, which said people between the ages of five and 24 are “particularly vulnerable” to the flu.
College students are within the top five at risk populations and will receive dosages before people who are not in this list.
The Cal Poly Health Center is expecting to receive the H1N1 vaccine around the end of October or beginning of November. This depends on when the County Health Department receives more of the vaccines from the state. Upon receiving the vaccine the county must analyze and divide the doses based on the demand and actual need for the vaccine and distribute accordingly.
The Health Center requested 19,000 vaccines to meet the needs of all students. There are about 18,000 students that attend Cal Poly. However, the Health Center polled students twice last week and received varying results. In one poll two thirds of students said they intended to get the vaccine while in the second poll three quarters said they did not intend to be vaccinated.
Although they ordered 19,000 vaccines they will only receive 7,000 in the initial distribution from the county.
“We believe that the 7,000 will easily get us through the priority students (ones with existing conditions or high risk students) and the bulk of students who want it,” Director of Health and Counseling Services, Dr. Martin Bragg said. “Our hope is that we can get everyone a shot who wants a shot.”
Health care and emergency medical services personnel are included in the top five populations to receive the vaccine. The Health Center staff will be provided with the vaccine as well. This is similar to the seasonal flu shots provided for staff in the past years.
When the vaccine arrives in the next few weeks 12 to 15 staff members will be administering the vaccine. The training leading up to the release of the vaccine will include mainly “crowd control” due to the paperwork that must be done prior to receiving the vaccine and the crowds they expect at the release of the vaccine.
In order to accommodate the large-scale vaccinations to be administered the Health Center will have to alter operation for about two weeks.
According to the San Luis Obispo County Health Department during the week of Oct. 1-8 there were six hospitalized cases and “at least 37 persons have had PH lab results consistent with infection with the H1N1 virus.”