UHS May Not Get Full Vaccine Order

Small shipment of vaccine received for high risk groups

University Health Services announced Monday that it is unlikely to receive all of the 15,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine it requested from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, although UHS received a small shipment of the vaccine this week.

Until it receives sufficient quantities of the vaccine, UHS will continue vaccinating only patients defined as high risk by the Department of Health.

The news comes amid nationwide delays in production and distribution of the vaccine. As recently as early November, Health Services Director David S. Rosenthal ’59 had said that all students, faculty, and staff covered by UHS insurance would be able to be vaccinated by now.

Rosenthal said yesterday that UHS still hopes to vaccinate students before the end of the semester.

“We haven’t gotten very much, and neither have our compatriots in Massachusetts, including some hospitals,” Rosenthal said.

According to Rosenthal, the new shipment will allow parents and guardians of children younger than six months of age, those with chronic medical conditions, health care workers, emergency responders—including the police and disability van operators—and medical and dental students directly involved in patient care to be vaccinated.

Most pregnant women and children covered by UHS insurance have already been vaccinated, he said.

Once UHS receives enough vaccines, it will immediately begin immunizations for groups not considered high-risk, Rosenthal said.

“We can immunize anywhere from 300 to 600 in a session”, said Rosenthal.

He added that UHS would offer immunizations over J-Term if possible.

In the meantime, UHS urges students to maintain good hygiene and to come in to UHS if they present any cold or flu symptoms.

“The illness so far has not been severe: it has been mild to moderate. But until we can get more shipments, we urge students to continue practicing good hygiene,” said Rosenthal.

UHS also experienced delays in receiving shipments of the seasonal flu vaccine, which caused multiple graduate school flu clinics to temporarily suspend services in October.

The number of H1N1 cases reported daily to UHS was on the rise until November 23, after which cases dropped dramatically.

Rosenthal said that the decrease in cases at UHS since the last Monday may be attributable to student absences over Thanksgiving Break.

The CDC has also reported a nationwide drop in the frequency of visits to doctors for “influenza-like illnesses” for the fourth straight week.

Rosenthal said that the Northeast was one of the last areas to be hit by the spread of H1N1, meaning that the nationwide trend may not hold on a regional level.

—Staff writer Sanghyeon Park can be reached at park6@fas.harvard.