UHS Faces Flu Vaccine Shortage

Affiliates turned away as expected vaccine shipment fails to arrive

Harvard University Health Services has stopped giving seasonal flu vaccines at its Holyoke Center headquarters and most other sites around the University, due to an unexpected shortage.

Most of Harvard’s graduate schools—including the Law School, the Business School, the Graduate School of Education, and the School of Public Health—have stopped administering seasonal flu vaccines earlier than expected because a shipment of 1,600 flu vaccines expected two days ago did not arrive, according to UHS Director David S. Rosenthal ’59.

UHS will hold final clinics for undergraduates tonight in Currier dining hall and next Wednesday in Eliot.

“Students, faculty and staff who still wish to receive a seasonal flu vaccine should check with their local pharmacies, which have also been administering flu shots and may still have supplies,” Rosenthal wrote in an e-mailed statement to The Crimson.

UHS ordered about 19,000 doses this year, according to Rosenthal, and has administered between 15,000 and 16,000 doses of seasonal flu vaccine since early September—at least 25 percent more than the approximately 12,000 doses given out last year.

A clinic planned yesterday at the Law School was canceled at the last minute, according to Dorothy Wilder, a UHS nurse at Harvard Law School. Like most other graduate schools, the Law School will not receive any more seasonal flu vaccine.

Approximately 700 people received seasonal flu vaccinations on Tuesday at the Holyoke Center—the last clinic to be offered to the University community at UHS.

Before the shortage, UHS officials were planning on ending their seasonal flu vaccination program in the next two weeks to focus on the H1N1 vaccine, which has also seen delays.

Rosenthal said that at the beginning of the school year that he was hoping to receive shipments of H1N1 vaccine in mid-October, but that he now anticipates waiting until the beginning or middle of November.

“There are still issues out there about where it is. Where is the H1N1 vaccine?” Rosenthal said. “Fortunately, the illness is still mild to moderate.”

UHS has ordered between 12,000 and 13,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, but the first shipment will be earmarked for groups designated high-risk by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—including pregnant women, medical services personnel, and caretakers of young children.

UHS has a list of about 300 to 400 people at Harvard who qualify as high-risk and will receive the vaccine when it first arrives.

—Staff writer Danielle J. Kolin can be reached at dkolin@fas.harvard.edu.

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