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Outside source provides flu vaccine to BU

Dec. 1, 2000

By EMILY MCWHORTER

Reporter

Students are getting nagged by their parents about more than just studying for finals this week. Many parents also pushed getting flu and meningitis vaccines.

More than 1500 people received Flu immunizations Thursday in the Bill Daniel Student Center, while more than 900 received the meningitis shot.

'So far today, it has been an excellent program,' Ted Hiergesell, a VACCESSHealth representative, said.

VACCESSHealth, a provider of adult immunization programs, partnered with Baylor's Health Center to make the program possible. VACCESSHealth contacted Baylor about providing the meningitis vaccine, but Baylor was interested mainly because the company could provide a flu vaccine, which is in shortage this year, Louise Saunders, director of nurses, said.

'In the past, we have always done our own vaccinations, but this year the [flu] vaccine is so scarce that we can't get our hands on it,' Saunders said.

Although the Health Center ordered a supply of the flu vaccine, it is not very likely that it will receive it, Saunders said.

Dr. Mark Schwartze, director of Baylor health services, was instrumental in setting up the program, Hiergesell said. In a letter to parents, Schwartze stressed the importance of getting both vaccines and urged parents to encourage their children to go get them.

Students said they got the shots overwhelmingly because of the urging of their parents.

'My dad kept bugging me about it,' Lindley Fitzhugh, a Houston sophomore, said.

Five to 15 students on college campuses die annually from meningitis, and the highest incidence of this disease occurs during late winter and early spring. The influenza, virus can lead to bronchitis, pneumonia and ear infections, according to the letter sent to parents.

'Baylor is following the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by notifying, educating and making available these vaccines,' Hiergesell said.

The shortage of the flu vaccine is because of problems in the manufacturing of the vaccine. There is a shortage throughout the country because only two companies are able to make the vaccine instead of four, Saunders said.

According to a spokesperson from the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia, it is 'not really a shortage, but a delay.'

It will take two to three months to get this vaccine in some areas of the country, and the CDC reco

mmends that clinics target high-risk people first.

However, in two to three months, there will be no need for the flu vaccine, Saunders said.

'The optimum time to take it is now,' she said.

Baylor did take into consideration the fact that high-risk people should receive the flu immunization first, but no one is being turned away, Hiergesell said. Healthy students should still receive the vaccine so that they will not be spreading it. Living in close quarters during college means that everyone is susceptible, he said.