With an earlier than expected shipment of both flu mist and seasonal flu vaccine, Gannett Health Services has already vaccinated more than 6,000 Cornell students, faculty and staff free of charge at flu clinics stationed throughout campus. According to Heather Stone, Gannett public health communications specialist, the 6,000 vaccines administered thus far account for half of the roughly 12,000 doses that Gannett received in September. This shipment is on par with the 11,300 seasonal flu vaccines administered by Gannett during the 2008-2009 flu season. The 2009-2010 flu season marked an increase in vaccines administered by Gannett to 14,247, in part due to the H1N1 pandemic. Gannett will order more vaccines this year as needed, Stone said.“I think there are more people who are aware of the seriousness of flu after our experience last year so I’m hoping that more people are going to be getting their flu vaccine than in years past,” Stone said.Unlike last year, where Gannett diagnosed approximately 1,025 cases of influenza like illness between August 16 and October 20, 2009, only 32 cases were reported between the same time period this year.The clinics offer both the seasonal flu shot and the nasal-spray flu vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu shot contains an inactivated virus given with a needle that is approved for individuals’ ages 6 months and older, healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions or pregnant. The nasal-spray flu vaccine contains a live, weakened version of the flu virus that does not cause the flu. It is approved for use in healthy individuals ages 2 to 49 who are not pregnant.The CDC projects that as many as 160 to 165 million doses of flu vaccine will be produced this season. As of Oct. 15, roughly 139 million doses have been distributed in the United States.According to the CDC, influenza-like illness is characterized by a cough or sore throat and measured by a fever running above 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit or self-reported feverishness/chills.“In the last week, we’ve had only two people who have met the criteria for influenza like illness since last Monday,” Stone said. According to Gannett, individuals only need one flu vaccine this year, which will protect against influenza A, influenza B and the 2009 H1N1 virus. Since the vaccination has been updated, Stone said that individuals who received their flu shot last season should be vaccinated again this coming season. Immunity typically sets in two weeks after vaccination.While there are two upcoming Saturday flu vaccine clinics at Gannett on Oct. 23 and Nov. 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., individuals will only be seen by appointment. Gannett is encouraging the Cornell community to check the schedule of free clinics hosted around campus on the Gannett website. The flu vaccines are free to all Cornell students, staff and faculty, with a $30 fee to student spouses or same-sex partners.
Original Author: Jamie Meyerson