Swine Flu at The New School

Swine Flu at The New School

November 20th marked the third consecutive week that reports of H1NI infection rates decreased across the Unites States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making this months drop the first continuous decline in reported outbreaks since August. But even so, college students are still being warned to get vaccinated for H1N1 – Now.

“Although flu is going down, it’s far from gone,” Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control told CNN. Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, also commented CNN saying, “If you are sick, this is highly contagious and we really need you [students] home getting well before you return to class”

But the problem is  there aren’t enough vaccines available to provide to students. Medical Services at The New School ordered 700 doses of H1N1 vaccination from the department of health, the maximum amount of doses available to order. However, the university only received 300 doses of the vaccine, which they provided to students for free until running out last month. “They say they’ll give us more but we don’t know when they’ll come,” said Jayne Jordan, Director of Medical Services at the New School. “We had to cancel a bunch of appointments. We were hopeful but had to cancel because we couldn’t deliver. Were waiting on an extra 400 but they’ve told us it’s possible we just wont receive any more.”

Christine Jackman, Senior office Assistant at Health Services at the New School reported that after e-mails were sent out to students in October to receive free vaccination at the university, students, “called in droves” to get vaccinated. “Right now we don’t have any [vaccines] and we have quite a long wait list,” Jackman said. “The rather great demand exceeded the supply.”

For some students the shortage of vaccines is not an issue of concern. Lang Senior, Michelle Oppelt, who received the vaccination in November, said getting vaccinated was merely a matter of convenience. “I was there, [health services] and it was free. So I did it.” Oppelt says had she not been there and had the vaccine cost money, like the regular flu shot does, she probably wouldn’t have taken the shot.

Another Lang senior, Rosie Clark, says she’s not scared enough of swine flu to get vaccinated because she considers it to be just the flu. “I’ve never had the flu or flu shot,” said Clark. “I’m not scared enough to get vaccinated. I guess I’m not scared enough to really think ahead.”

This lackadaisical attitude expressed by some students comes as a surprise to Jordan because of the upcoming flu season and the media coverage of the swine flu as something to fear. “We have not seen a whole lot of anxiety or worry on part of the students, especially given the media coverage and fear there has been over it.”

As for students who do want take preventative measures and get vaccinated, Jordan says the chances of getting help from the university,  before heading home for break and  upon the return to school in February, are low. “We’re in touch with department of health every week to try and put pressure on them. But we don’t know. It’ll [vaccines] basically be here when it shows up on our doorstep.”


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