Free H1N1 vaccinations are being offered with no appointment at seven locations in the San Luis Obispo area this week. Health officials said students and citizens should still get vaccinated because knowledge of H1N1 and its characteristics is incomplete, so a vaccination is a cautionary measure.
“The public’s interest has decreased somewhat,” said Michelle Shoresman, emergency preparedness program manager for the San Luis Obispo health agency. “It is still really important for people to get vaccinated. We saw the wave of initial cases back in April and May and it slowly spread after that … but it’s entirely possible we could have another wave.”
The free shots are provided by the federal government, in an effort to prevent further outbreaks and to fulfill previously high citizen demand, Shoresman said. The shots will be given at two locations in San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles and at one location in Templeton, Grover Beach and Arroyo Grande.
Shoresman said during the initial outbreak there were shortages across the county and the nation. The shortages resulted in priority vaccinations that were given to more vulnerable people, such as pregnant women and seniors. Now there is a surplus of vaccinations.
“(There is) enough vaccine for anyone who wants it,” Shoresman said.
Dr. Marty Bragg, director of Health and Counseling Services at Cal Poly, said about 2,200 H1N1 vaccinations were given by the Health Center in the four-day clinic, but not all the doses were used. About 200 are still left for interested students. Students can walk in between 8 and 11 a.m. and 2 and 4 p.m. or make an appointment.
“College students feel like they’re bullet-proof from a vaccine standpoint,” Bragg said.
The Health Center only administers about 500 normal flu shots to students annually.
“College students are very healthy, but there is something about this flu that seems to attack a younger portion of the population and this, in particular, is still worrisome,” he said.
But some students are still ambivalent, Bragg said. He mentioned a busy lifestyle and rumors about the vaccination causing complications as reasons why some students didn’t get the shot.
Material engineering senior Andrew Walker said getting vaccinated is a good idea but because he didn’t personally hear about or see any cases, he didn’t worry about it.
“It’s hard to justify why I wouldn’t get vaccinated,” Walker said. “I guess I was just preoccupied with my life and didn’t get it. I didn’t have any experiences where H1N1 affected my day-to-day life. You hear about it, but you hear about a lot of things that don’t affect you.”
In San Luis Obispo, there have been two deaths and 44 hospitalizations attributed to H1N1, according to a Jan. 26 public health information update released by the San Luis Obispo health agency.
For more information, go to www.slopublichealth.org or call the public health agency at 805-788-2903.