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ND to offer limited flu shot supply

Justin Tardiff | Wednesday, October 27, 2004

In light of the severity of the nationwide flu vaccine shortage, Notre Dame has decided to only offer vaccinations to high-risk individuals – reversing a previous plan to also vaccinate the general population of students on a first-come, first-serve basis.Although students were informed through an Oct. 13 e-mail from Heath Services director Ann Kleva that shots would be available, the University realized it could not in good conscience offer vaccinations to healthy students when the national community is strapped to cover all high-risk individuals, said University spokesman Matt Storin.The initial plan was a “natural reflex” on the part of Health Services to follow its mission of providing care to students, Storin said, but was changed once Notre Dame officials had a chance to fully absorb the importance of the Centers For Disease Control guidelines about who is eligible to receive shots from the nation’s dwindling supply.”When we gained a full cognizance of the guidelines, we realized our program was too generous,” Storin said. “Every instance [of vaccination] that goes outside those guidelines takes away from those [high-risk] people.”Health Services will offer shots to Notre Dame’s high-risk individuals – defined as students and employees with chronic health conditions including diabetes, asthma or acute allergies, organ transplant donors and recipients, pregnant women, immuno-suppressed individuals and University employees and retirees over the age of 65 – Thursday at the Joyce Center from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Employees supplying direct patient care to a chronically ill person are also eligible.All these individuals will likely receive the vaccination, Storin said.”Even though we have decreased the supply we originally had in hand, we feel we have adequate vaccines to handle the high-risk needs,” he said.The vaccines were obtained from a reputable, independent supplier in the Midwest, which asked that the University withhold its name because it cannot handle heavy phone traffic, Storin said.The nationwide shortage was prompted by the suspension of the manufacturing license of the Chiron Corporation, a major flu vaccine provider. In response to the insufficient supply, both Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s placed strict limitations on who could receive the shot. In past years, the two schools made flu shots available to any student or staff person desiring them. Storin said he was unaware of problems at Notre Dame in the past, as major national shortages are rare.French drug manufacturer Aventis-Pasteur announced last Wednesday that it has located an additional 2.6 million doses of the vaccine, which it will deliver to the United States this January. This addition to the dwindling U.S. stockpile leaves the country with 54 million doses, much lower than the 100 million doses needed to satisfy American demand, according to news reports from CNN. Despite these recent developments, Storin said he does not believe the University will receive any additional vaccines.”We expect that any increase in supplies later in the flu season will be directed to clinics and other facilities that particularly have high-risk populations to serve; we do not think colleges and universities will be among those that receive the added supplies,” he said.A supply of FluMist – an alternative, intranasal influenza vaccination – will be made available at a cost to the remaining University population in early November, according to Storin. Produced by MedImmune, a California-based drug manufacture, supplies of FluMist will be limited and require payment of a fee by the vaccine recipient. MedImmune will supply 1 to 2 million doses of its vaccine to the American public.Storin was unsure whether the FluMist supply would meet the demand of the Notre Dame community.”We will have a limited supply but we are hopeful it will be adequate for those who want the FluMist,” Storin said.