The University announced last week that it had received approval from the Connecticut Department of Public Health to extend the H1N1 vaccine to high-risk students 17-24 years old. Previously, only high-risk students 18 years of age and younger were eligible for the vaccine, which excluded most of the campus population. The Davison Health Center hosted two H1N1 flu clinics on Nov. 5 and 6, and ninety-six students have been vaccinated thus far.
Although the H1N1 vaccine is being provided by the federal government at no cost, it is in short supply. According to the American College Health Association (ACHA), only 43 percent of 274 participating institutions reported having had the H1N1 vaccine on hand. The University received its first 100 doses of the H1N1 vaccine last month and was recently allotted an additional 200 doses. According to Joyce Walter, Director of the Davison Health Center, the University could be asked to return any unused doses, which would then be redistributed to other campuses and clinics in Connecticut.
During the month of October, the 274 institutions participating in the ACHA survey reported having administered 30,464 doses of the vaccine. Of these doses, 91 in total were administered to students in the participating Connecticut college population. In light of last week’s expanded eligibility requirements for the H1N1 vaccine—which saw Wesleyan administer more doses of the vaccine in a period of days than all of Connecticut did over several weeks—these numbers are expected to increase during the month of November.
According to Walter, 190 students have gone into self-isolation so far after exhibiting symptoms of Influenza-like Illness (ILI). Since most colleges, including Wesleyan, have stopped testing students for H1N1—they are instead keeping track of the number of students with Influenza-like Illness (ILI), which the Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines as fever and cough and/or sore throat—it remains unclear whether these students came down with the virus. According to Walter, the University anticipates that many of these cases are, in fact, H1N1. Although the number of cases of ILI being reported to the Health Center recently declined, the University anticipates that the number of students coming down with symptoms of ILI to rise during the winter. Across the nation, a total of 9,128 new cases of Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) were reported to the ACHA during the week ending on Oct. 23.
The CDC has not indicated when healthy individuals will be eligible for the H1N1 vaccine. Walter indicated that the rest of the student population might not be eligible for the vaccine until December.