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College students immune to calls for vaccination

Posted December 7, 2009

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— Area college campuses have plenty of supply of the H1N1 flu vaccine, but not so many students lining up to get it.

Public health officials said having students living in close quarters in dormitories puts them at higher risk for contracting the H1N1 virus. They expressed concern that many students don't think they need to be vaccinated.

"I guess I would have liked to see some lines right now," said Mary Beth Koza, environmental health and safety director at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

H1N1 vaccination clinic at UNC, flu clinic generic Risk of H1N1 doesn't concern many students

UNC has held immunization clinics at the Frank Porter Graham Student Union on campus in recent weeks, but it's never experienced the lines that clinics held by county health departments have seen repeatedly since October.

"I thought everyone would be knocking down our doors, and the first week we had it on campus, we had a great response," Koza said, adding that demand has tailed off since then.

The university has distributed less than half of its 14,000 doses of vaccine so far, she said.

Although H1N1 has left UNC freshman Lillian Chason in critical condition at UNC Hospitals, many students said they aren't worried about catching the virus.

"I've been around it a lot the first week of school, and I didn't get it. So, I don't know, I'm taking my chances," UNC sophomore Taylor Haskin said.

"I think most of us think the worst of it has already happened, so a lot of people just kind of think there is not really a big risk anymore," UNC senior Chelsea Hicks said.

Health officials said pandemics like H1N1 tend to come in three waves, and the U.S. is in the second wave. The vaccine could head off a third one, they said.

"It's frustrating to me because I know I have the vaccine. I know I can prevent the third wave," Koza said.

Officials predict the third wave of H1N1 could come during the traditional period for seasonal flu, from February to April. The holiday travel season could accelerate the arrival of that wave, they said.

Even people who think they've had H1N1 should get the vaccine unless they actually were tested for the virus, health officials said.

Koza said about 15 percent of students, faculty and staff at UNC have been vaccinated, which is the highest rate at area universities.

About 11 percent of the student population at North Carolina State University has been vaccinated, while more than 9 percent of eligible students at Duke University have received the vaccine, officials said. North Carolina Central University officials couldn't provide figures for vaccinated students, noting the school plans to hold its first major immunization clinic on Wednesday.

UNC freshman Courtney Kelly had a confirmed case of H1N1 earlier this year, and she urged other students to get vaccinated.

"I would say, if you have the opportunity, go ahead," Kelly said. "It's not fun, so if you can avoid it, it's a good thing."

4 Comments

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  • mtadish Dec 11, 2009

    Any story they personalize, like Chason, draws more people into believing the fraud. I hope for Chason's sake, she gets a second opinion and find out what's wrong with her. I'm no Dr but, if she was getting dizzy, having trouble walking around, sounds more like a heart problem, than JUST H1NOT1 flu. Shame on the media for not digging deeper.

  • btbt1 Dec 7, 2009

    First the "high risk" groups only, but now open to everyone. After the begging to get vaccinated ends, I guess the "mandatory vaccinations" will begin. H1N1 is spread by FEAR(and the vaccine)so I agree with the college students' decision not to get the shot.

  • TeresaBee Dec 7, 2009

    The more people that get the vaccine, the less likely I will get it.

  • horseonthefly Dec 7, 2009

    Considering that a lot more people I know have gotten sick from the vaccine than have gotten H1N1 I'll take my chances with "the swine"