On Thursday, Oct. 22, H1N1 vaccinations were offered to students in the lower level of the LRC. The Vielmetti Health Center was given 500 doses of the live virus vaccine by the Marquette County Health Department. The vaccine came in a nasal spray form. The live virus is a weakened version of the virus, and it is considered as effective as the inactivated virus vaccine, which is ordinarily used.
“One is not felt to be superior to the other,” said Thomas Schacht, director of NMU’s Health Center.
It was suggested in Schacht’s e-mail about the virus, which was sent to students on Wednesday, Oct. 21, that certain groups of people were not to receive this vaccine. These groups included people over 50 years of age, pregnant women and people with weak immune systems. This suggestion was made because the live virus has not been tested for safety or efficiency for those people who are at a greater risk.
According to Schacht, of the 500 doses that were given to the health center, all but three were used; the remainders were returned to the Marquette County Health Department. The Health Center is now waiting on more vaccines to assist students.
“It is difficult to predict when additional supplies of either the live virus or inactivated virus will become available, but I estimate it will be at least a few more weeks before we are able to offer vaccines on campus again,” he said.
The vaccine seems to be coming too late for some students.
“The H1N1 flu is widespread on our campus now, with hundreds of ill students,” Schacht said. “I expect the current outbreak to last at least six weeks.”
Schacht also said that it is possible for H1N1 to resurge on campus in the winter or spring. He said that the symptoms that have been shown are not out of the ordinary, including fever, headache, body ache, sore throat, cough, fatigue and sometimes vomiting. Students’ fevers usually last about five days.
Trick-or-treating, a regular activity that happens in the residence halls, has been cancelled this year to prevent the spread of H1N1.
“This is the time to be vigilant about hand hygiene, avoiding ill persons and being cautious in public gatherings,” Schacht said.
Housing and Residence Life decided that this was the best decision especially after local schools were closed due to such a large amount of H1N1 cases. According to Jeff Korpi, assistant director of Housing and Residence Life, this decision minimized the spread of H1N1 not only to students on campus, but also the children who would be coming through.
Korpi said that many residence halls are holding different events in light of the cancellation, including dances or small parties.
Any student who feels ill or who might have a sick roommate should speak to their resident advisor for information on what to do to stay healthy.