Who's getting the H1N1 vaccines?

November 5, 2009 5:56:51 PM PST
Some people are questioning why the H1N1 vaccine is as available to college students as it is to young children or the elderly.But ask about any student at NC State and odds are they'll either have had H1N1 themselves or they'll know someone who's gotten sick.

"I had two roommates at one time about three weeks ago that had it, both of them did," student Mitchell Brown said.

But should the H1N1 vaccine be going to kids and older people before otherwise healthy college students? State Epidemiologist Dr. Megan Davies says no.

Davies says its lifestyle and close proximity that makes students and people under 24-years-old more likely to get sick and more likely to pass the virus along.

"College students are a reservoir for transmission," Davies said. "So, if you vaccinate the kids who are in school, it's less likely that they'll bring it home to their neighborhoods and those who might be more vulnerable to the virus."

That group includes people with asthma, diabetes or other pre-existing conditions.

Dr. Davies says she understands completely the frustrations that some may feel when college students get vaccinated before their children. She says she hasn't been able to get the vaccine for her 2-and-a-half-year-old son, who has asthma.

"I didn't catch my pediatrician before they'd given out their doses and I live in Wake County and they've done a great job of getting the vaccine out, it just hasn't gotten to my son yet."

But Davies says she's happy with the overall response to H1N1. She says it marks the first time in history that people are being vaccinated against a pandemic.

"So while I feel the frustration on an individual level, I -also as a public health worker- am extremely proud of what we've achieved, it's amazing," she said.

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