All UI students eligible for vaccine


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All UI students are now eligible for the H1N1 vaccine.

The Johnson County Public Health Department expanded the priority groups for the vaccine to individuals from 6 months to 24 on Wednesday, said Doug Beardsley, the director of Johnson County Public Health.

This week’s shipment to Johnson County should contain roughly 12,000 vaccines — far more than the 1,000 or 2,000 in previous deliveries, Beardsley said.

The UI Student Health Service received approximately 650 doses, said Mary Beth Kelch of the service. Although Johnson County is limited to individuals up to the age of 24, Student Health does not have an age limit.

“All they have to do it walk in and ask for a vaccine,” Kelch said.

Until Thursday, vaccines were limited to students with chronic health problems, such as UI senior T.J. Gorman, 22, who suffers from pulmonary lung disease. He received the vaccine at Student Health last month after his mother made a worried call to the UI Hospitals and Clinics following news about H1N1-releated deaths of people with lung diseases.

According to the Associated Press, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported three more H1N1-related deaths, bringing the Iowa death toll to 30. All three had risk factors.

Although all students are now eligible for vaccination, some healthy students won’t jump in line at the clinics.

“I’ve never had the flu in my life,” said UI freshman Amanda Shine and she won’t get the vaccine.
Shine admitted H1N1 was different from the regular flu in that it targets the college-age population, many of whom live in proximity in the dorms.

“It will spread it more than if you were living at home,” said the Mayflower resident.

In Johnson County, vaccines are still restricted among individuals 25 or older, but Beardsley said he hoped to open up vaccination to the general public by January.

According to the American College Health Association, H1N1 cases decreased throughout November. The association collects weekly data on new cases from 243 colleges across the country.

Incidents of new cases peaked at more than 9,000 college students during the last week of October. Since then the number of cases took a steep dive, plunging to under 4,000 during the week of Nov. 20.

About 25 students attended the UI Student Health clinic on Tuesday, said Kelch. In the beginning, there were over a hundred a day. They’re expecting more students following the expansion of eligibility.

Though recent trends show cases decreasing, officials are preparing for the next wave, said Polly Carver-Kimm, spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Public Health, warning against complacency.

“We should see more cases after the holidays after people have gotten together for Christmas and New Year’s and spread diseases around,” she said.

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