Students and faculty who wanted to receive the seasonal flu vaccine on Sept. 17 were met with long lines in the University Center Main Lounge, as increased worry over getting sick this year prompted a record breaking amount of vaccinations.
Joan Osthues, certified registered nurse and director of Health and Counseling Services in an online interview said that a total of 641 students, faculty and staff received the seasonal flu vaccine.
This number encompasses both the main campus and the Seton Hall Law School. Last year only 277 vaccines were given to the same group. Students and faculty received the seasonal flu vaccine on Sept. 17 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Main Lounge, as advertised on Blackboard. Students were charged $30 to their bursar accounts.
The shot was free for faculty and staff. There were four nurses giving out the vaccinations. Students and faculty had to wait in line outside the Main Lounge to fill out forms. After completing the forms, they waited on another line inside the Main Lounge for the vaccination.
According to Osthues, the university contracts with an outside vendor, Maxim Health Systems, which she referred to as a "common practice among universities and colleges."
"There apparently is a shortage of seasonal flu vaccine because companies are trying to get the H1N1 vaccine produced," Osthues said. "We are currently on backorder for the office. There is not another flu clinic planned at this time. Students can call Health Services to check if we have received our shipment, if not we can refer them to convenient locations in the area."
As of this time, it is not confirmed as to when the H1N1 vaccine will be available at the university or how many they will receive. Students who did not receive the seasonal flu vaccine can still receive the H1N1 vaccine.
Osthues said students should be on the lookout for the announcement of the H1N1 vaccine clinic dates. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, the CDC recommends that the following groups be vaccinated when it becomes available: pregnant women, caregivers for infants, healthcare and emergency medical services personnel, and all people ages 6 months through 24 years old.
People who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from the flu should be vaccinated as well.
When asked why so many people came to receive the seasonal flu vaccine this year, Osthues said, "The CDC has recommended that certain individuals who meet the criteria of the vaccine protect themselves against the seasonal flu as well as the H1N1 flu." Osthues also attributed this year's increase in individuals receiving the vaccine to "heightened awareness via the news media."
Jessica Noto, a junior English and social behavior major, arrived at 1:15 p.m. to receive the flu shot and did not leave until 2:50 p.m. Noto said that she was late for a 2:30 p.m. class because she was waiting in line for the shot. According to Noto, when she got in line, it extended from the Main Lounge toward the entrance to the Theatre-in-the Round.
"There's students but it's all faculty," Noto said of the line. "It could be because of the cost and students probably didn't read the letter." Noto also said that students may not be getting vaccinated because they believe professors will be more generous with absences, as a consequence of the flu scare.
Noto said that she didn't think the vaccination process was handled as efficiently as it could be.
"Four people are giving shots," Noto said. "One guy is filling out forms. They should have the forms out here to fill out." Osthues said that there were four nurses because "that number should be adequate over a 6 hour period of time in a vaccine clinic setting."
Freshman William Torres, wanted to get the seasonal flu vaccine but did not know that it was being given out. He said that he goes somewhere else if it is convenient. He also plans on getting the H1N1 vaccine if it is made available at Seton Hall.
"It was not advertised to the freshmen well enough," Torres said. "No one really reads that (Blackboard). I would have gone if they sent out an e-mail."
Torres did receive the cards being given out listing flu symptoms and instructions for what to do if you have flu symptoms.
"We got cards about flu symptoms but it didn't say anything about the flu shot," Torres said. However, Torres did see the line in the University Center but was not aware of what it was for.
Kaitlyn Reper, a senior Nursing major, waited in line for a little over an hour.Reper said that she wanted to get vaccinated because she is currently doing clinical trials and the flu shot is suggested, though not required. "As a nursing major, I want to protect my patients," Reper said.
As for the long wait, Reper suggested that nursing students could have provided assistance to the nurses on duty.
"They should have the nursing students doing it because we're trained to do injections" Reper said. "It could speed up the process." However, Osthues said that nursing students cannot help with the vaccinations because "they are not licensed to administer medications."
Deirdre Yates, a Theatre and Communication professor, also came to receive the shot. "I thought that it was great that the University gave us the flu shot," Yates said. "I hope they bring us the H1N1 vaccine in October."
Yates also had some suggestions for the clinic, such as having a few more nurses or filling out the hands before hand. However, Yates thought that preventing flu overweighs waiting in line.
"If I had to wait an hour and a half, and it prevents me from getting the flu, I'm okay with that," Yates said.
Brittany Biesiada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.