Health Center reflects, updates H1N1 impact on campus

Since receiving its first shipment of the nationally scarce H1N1 vaccine, the Stamps Health Services Center has inoculated approximately 2,800 students, faculty and health services staff members.

The initial delay Health Services experienced in receiving the vaccines gave the administration and staff ample time to prepare a precisely measured and methodical H1N1 inoculation clinic, which has thus far been located in the Student Center.

“Initially [we] received our first doses via UPS. The Shipment came direct from the supplier because Georgia Tech planned in advance, became a registered provider to dispense the H1N1 vaccine, and by doing so was able to directly receive the vaccine from the manufacturers,” said Jonathan Baker, director of Stamps Health Services

On the first day of vaccinations, Tuesday, Nov. 10, students in the CDC’s identified targeted priority groups were eligible to receive the vaccination. On that day, 65 individuals received the injection. These included pregnant women, people who live or care for children under six months and those at risk for H1N1 due to chronic illnesses. The vaccination received by the health center was intended for the immunization of people ages 18 and older only.

The following day all students, faculty and staff were allowed to receive the vaccination. In total, 290 persons were immunized during the initial round of vaccinations.

“That was a very efficient clinic. We had the right space. We had the right number of people. We brought in additional resources by hiring contract nurses. It was a joint partnership between Health Services, Emergency Preparedness, and Georgia Tech Police,” said Baker, “We combined our resources to make the clinic operationally successful, orderly, and the feedback has been very positive. It was efficient for people to get through in a relatively short period of time. It took about 45 minutes to an hour. Some people could have been out within 30-40 minutes. You can’t do it much faster than that. Our throughput was pretty impressive. We had pretty effective staging. Obviously a number of students took advantage of that.”

Of the 2800 persons who have received the vaccine, students make up 63 percent of those vaccinated. Tech faculty account for 36 percent of the total and the healthcare staff constitutes the remaining one percent.

While there has been a relative lull in H1N1 media coverage recently, the Health Services Center and its staff are still administering seasonal and H1N1 vaccines and promoting traditional flu-prevention methods.

In response to some of the lessons learned from last semester, the Health Center has added some changes to better accommodate the student population. During the first week of classes this spring semester, on Thursday, Jan. 14, Health Services expanded and shifted the H1N1 clinic’s operating hours to from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in order to accommodate students who might be unable to visit during the morning or afternoon.

“There is still plenty of time to get an H1N1 or traditional flu vaccine,“ Baker said.

While there are no future flu shot clinics planned at this time, students can still receive H1N1 and seasonal vaccines at the Health Services Center. Students can register for either vaccine on the Health Services .

Like the traditional flu shot, the H1N1 vaccination comes at no additional cost to students. Faculty and staff can also receive the H1N1 vaccine for free, but must pay $25 to receive the traditional flu vaccination from the health center.

The website also includes a range of documentation for students on how to prevent themselves from getting the flu and how to respond when experiencing flu like symptoms.

“We’re in traditional flu season,” said Baker, “Vigilance is important. We’re back to prevention again.”

In the past few weeks Health Services has reintroduced its prevention poster campaign around campus to raise awareness for preventative methods. The posters will serve as friendly reminders for students to cover their coughs, to stay at home when sick, and to avoid sharing cups.

“There’s nothing heroic about being sick. There’s no badge of courage that we award,” said Baker, “The only thing that probably is at stake here is something with academics. And no one would want to blow their semester. Because the flu can knock you down for a week or two weeks and that’s just enough time. So the message for Georgia Tech students is stay healthy and take it seriously so they have a successful semester.”

Stamps Health Services Center has received close to 5000 vaccines in staggered deliveries since receiving its first doses on Nov. 5 of last year.