Despite the distraction of mid-terms and the widespread publicity concerning swine flu vaccine’s possible side effects, almost 5000 people received the vaccine early this week in the UHS three-day immunization program.
“The turnout was larger than we expected based on reports from other clinics,” Dr. Sholem Postel, associate director of UHS, said yesterday.
Seventeen per cent of Harvard’s eligible population has received the vaccine compared to only seven per cent of the national population.
Postel said those who chose not to receive the vaccine probably feared side effects or thought the vaccine pointless because there has been no recent swine flu recurrence.
If a swine flu epidemic should break out, attitudes will probably change and UHS may have to conduct another immunization program, he added.
Postel said a repeat program would not be a problem because there is “no real shortage” of swine flu vaccine.
However, Postel said there is a shortage of the bivalent vaccine now given only to high-risk persons. The bivalent vaccine is more effective and ideally should be given to everyone, he said.
This week’s immunization went smoothly and no serious reactions to the vaccine have occurred or are likely to occur, Postel said.
Although at least half a dozen people per day fainted after receiving the vaccine, they were probably responding to the situation and not the vaccine itself, Postel added.
Many more people received the vaccine on the second and third days of the immunization program, perhaps due to reports that the vaccine was relatively painless and simple, Postel said.
Although UHS has returned 10,000 of the 18,000 monovalent vaccines they received from the government, people who wish to be vaccinated may call the UHS immunization center and ask for an appointment.
About 37,000 students, faculty members, employees and their family members are eligible to receive the shots.