H1N1 vaccinations on campus

Vaccinations for the H1N1 flu virus will take place at MCCC in November, and college students are one of the target groups.

MCCC has been working closely with the Monroe County Health Department to provide vaccinations for the H1N1 virus.

 Public vaccinations are likely to be held on a Saturday in November, while the vaccine for staff and students will be available on a school day Rebecca Head director of the Monroe County Health Department, said.

Head emphasizes that certain groups of people need the vaccine more than others. These groups are referred to as the target groups by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Head said the CDC has given local health agencies the criteria and rules for the target groups.

The target groups, according to the CDC, are, pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age, healthcare and emergency medical services personnel, people between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old, and people ages 25-64 years of age who are at higher risk for H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.

To determine who fits into the target groups, everyone will be screened and asked a series of questions before they are given the vaccine.

Senior citizens are less likely to become sick with H1N1 and only need the vaccine if they have pre-existing conditions. Seniors are more susceptible to being infected with the seasonal flu virus and are encouraged to receive that vaccine.

Head wants to stress that the seniors are not being left out, but the target groups are the priority.

“Respect the people that need it most,” Head said.

Almost half of the population in Monroe County will be eligible to receive the vaccine, but the Health Department is not sure how many people will want it.

Head said the vaccine does not come in all at once, it comes in waves.

“We are hopeful we will be able to cover everyone,” Head said.

Head could not give a definite answer on whether the vaccine will be available in time to prevent the first wave of H1N1 cases. However, she said the Health Department is doing its best to set up vaccination dates.

“We really appreciate being able to partner with the college on this,” Head said.

Questions have been raised about whether the H1N1 vaccine is safe or not.

“There are a lot of false rumors going around that this may be harmful,” Head said.

She also said that it is just like any other flu vaccine, and will be available next year with the regular flu vaccine.

The vaccine will be free, but there may be an administrative fee.

Besides holding vaccinations at MCCC, Head said the Health Department is looking into holding them at the YMCA, the MBT Expo Center at the fairgrounds and some high schools.

When the H1N1 vaccine was first being developed it was reported that two doses would be needed, but it has been confirmed that one dose is effective.

“We are thrilled with that,” Head said.

The only people recommended by the CDC to get two doses of the vaccine are children under 10 years old.

Head said the Health Department is trying to build immunity against all flu viruses by protecting people now. Therefore, the seasonal flu vaccine was administered early this year.

The college had scheduled seasonal flu shots  at MCCC on Monday, Oct. 19, but that session was cancelled because enough vaccine wasn’t available. It will be rescheduled in November. The cost of the shots was to be $25.

In addition to the flu vaccinations, MCCC has released a Pandemic Preparedness Plan in an email to employees and students.

The U.S. Department of Education directed that colleges and universities create a response plan for dealing with H1N1.

The plan states the members of the Emergency Management Team and their responsibilities if normal college activities are affected by the H1N1 virus.

The plan also includes the specifications of Stage 1 and 2 and how the college will recover from a pandemic.