County health officials held the first of five H1N1 vaccine clinics yesterday, inoculating hundreds of people at the Earl Warren Showground.
The vaccines were specifically given to those believed to be at high risk for the virus, including pregnant women, children under five, parents of infants, sick youths and healthcare workers. Due to the limited number of vaccines they received, officials were unable to offer doses to people who are not considered to be high risk.
According to County Public Health Dept. Director Susan Klein-Rothschild, the clinics will be open to the general public when more doses become available.
“Right now, we are focusing on immunizing the high-risk areas such as pregnant women,” Klein-Rothschild said. “We hope to open clinics for the general public as soon as possible, but right now there is simply a delay between the manufacturer and the distributor.”
The county first received doses of the vaccine in October and has been struggling to get more since then. County vaccine supplies were buffeted this week when health officials received a shipment of 5,500 new doses.
Health officials at UCSB have also been waiting on shipments of the H1N1 vaccine.
Director of Student Health Dr. Elizabeth Downing said she is waiting on an order of 15,000 vaccines. So far, UCSB has only received enough vaccines to immunize students who fall within the description of the five high-risk groups, which is less than 100 students, according to Downing.
“UC Santa Cruz got some last week — it is the only UC to get some so far. They do not give any reason why. We are basically playing the waiting game. We are just waiting for it to show up on our doorstep,” Downing said.
Though unable to get the vaccine, Downing said the number of H1N1 cases at UCSB has been steadily declining.
“I would estimate that at least 10 to 15 percent of the school has the virus right now,” she said. “Only about half that amount of students getting H1N1 are actually coming into the clinic.”
Of all the cases at UCSB, only one student has been hospitalized.
“I would say that is a pretty good amount for the amount of cases most likely out there,” Downing said.
Despite the decline in the number of cases, some students say swine flu has had a big impact.
“I went in to get checked out at Student Health the first week we got here, and they told me I had swine flu,” first-year psychology major Amanda Conkling said. “I basically spent the next week or so in bed incredibly sick. It wasn’t too bad overall, but I did miss out on that crucial first few week experience of being at UCSB. I missed out on the early social aspects and found it really hard to make friends after that.”