Free swine flu vaccine to be offered on campus

Student Health Services (SHS) expects to have a free vaccine for swine flu, also known as H1N1 Influenza, available in October, said Dr. Egilda Terenzi, director of SHS.

The Florida Department of Health (FDH) allows institutions to charge a fee for administering the vaccine, but SHS will distribute the vaccine for free, Terenzi said.

“The federal government is not charging for the vaccine and supplies,” Terenzi said. “We have chosen not to charge a fee in the interest of getting the vaccine to students efficiently.”

SHS does not know exactly when the vaccine will be available, said Diane Zanto, senior director of SHS.

SHS requested 2,500 doses of the swine flu vaccine for the first week of distribution and will order additional doses weekly through the FDH, according to the SHS H1N1 Influenza Weekly Advisory report.

“We are told there will be enough of the vaccine for everyone, but that it will be supplied intermittently over time,” Terenzi said.

SHS reported at least 110 cases of “Influenza-like illness” since June, according to the SHS weekly report.

Once SHS receives the vaccine, booths will be set up in the Marshall Student Center (MSC) to administer it, Terenzi said. Because there is no exact delivery date for the vaccines, planning the distribution has been difficult, she said.

SHS agreed to administer vaccines under The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendations.

The CDC recommends that pregnant women, caregivers for children younger than 6 months, and health and emergency care personnel should be given priority. The CDC gave recommendations for certain age groups: those between 6 months and 24 years old, and people between 25 and 64 years old with health conditions at high risk of complications from swine flu.

There has been a wide variation in the number of swine flu cases at other schools, and there is no way to predict how many cases there will be at USF, Terenzi said.

“Some schools have reported no cases and other schools, like Florida State University, are reporting hundreds of cases a week,” Terenzi said.

SHS requested 500 doses of the seasonal flu vaccine, which will also be free, on Oct. 23, Zanto said. A flu clinic is planned for Oct. 27 and 28 in the MSC, but those dates are tentative, according to the SHS’ weekly report.

– Additional reporting by Jenna Withrow