AU tries to rid itself of H1N1 vaccine doses

Jill Westerholme and Emily Davis chat after receiving the H1N1 nasal spray vaccine at Auburn University.
Jill Westerholme and Emily Davis chat after receiving the H1N1 nasal spray vaccine at Auburn University.

Posted by: Melissa McKinney - bio | email

AUBURN, AL (WSFA) - Consider Jill Westerholme and Emily Davis the lucky ones. "We are very fortunate that we were able to be one of the big universities that was supplied early on," says Westerholme, a veterinary student at Auburn University.

"To offer it to college students like this is great," says Davis, also an Auburn veterinary student.

They and more than 1,000 other Auburn students are some of the first in the state to get an H1N1 nasal spray vaccine.

With 4500 doses, the university is one of the only schools in Alabama to get any.

"We feel very fortunate and blessed," says Doctor Fred Kam, Director of the Auburn University Medical Center.

But unfortunately it could stay that way for a while. The Alabama Department of Public Health  says the makers of the vaccine are running behind.  It may be December before some school clinics and smaller universities get their fair share--a month later than they thought.

But Auburn University physicians aren't wasting any time. "We are actively trying to immunize as many people as we can," says Kam.

He says hoarding those coveted doses isn't an option. "Our goal here is to use all the vaccine."

The school has already held two free vaccination clinics--both with large turnouts. "Today we did just under 300.  Last week, with our first clinic, we did 824," adds Kam.

Some students say it's smart to get it while you can. "Just because it seems to be such an epidemic this year with the H1N1 being a new flu," says veterinary student, Andrea Bays.

"This new strain of flu is fatal in some people, so if it's available to you, I would encourage you to get it," adds Davis.

Despite a drop in sick students, physicians still expect to use 2,000 vaccine doses by the end of the week. When they run out, they'll wait for more like everybody else.

The university held another free vaccination clinic Thursday in the student center.

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