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January 7, 2010

H1N1 vaccinations available for staff/faculty

Pitt will hold an H1N1 flu vaccination clinic for faculty and staff 1-5 p.m. on Jan. 14 in the University Club ballroom. The vaccination is free to Pitt employees with a valid identification card.

Falk Pharmacy also is offering Pitt employees free H1N1 flu vaccinations 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays through January.

Both the injectable (inactivated) flu shot and the nasal spray (live, attenuated) vaccine will be available at the clinics.

John Fedele, associate director for news, urged employees to get vaccinated. “The University supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) position that a flu vaccine is the single best way to protect against influenza illness,” he said.

No registration for the clinics is necessary, but employees are asked to fill out the required consent form prior to attending a clinic to expedite the vaccination procedure. Forms are available on the University’s H1N1 flu information site — Forms also will be available at the clinic sites.

Participants should choose the applicable consent form depending on their choice of vaccine delivery type, shot or nasal spray. Both consent forms ask participants to review the CDC vaccine information statement prior to signing the consent form.

According to Falk pharmacist Janet St. Denis, “Most people prefer the flu shot, which is more familiar, but the vaccines are equally effective.” She added, however, that the nasal spray is restricted to healthy individuals between the ages of 2 and 49 who are not pregnant and do not have underlying medical conditions. Other restrictions are spelled out in the CDC’s vaccine information statement.

No appointment is necessary for the Falk Pharmacy clinics, St. Denis said.

Fedele said H1N1 flu vaccine clinics for faculty and staff at the regional campuses are in the planning stages. “Vaccine clinics directed to faculty and staff on the regional campuses will be dependent upon Pitt’s available supply of vaccine,” he said.

He added that clinics for students, who are in the age group — up to 24 years old — most impacted by the H1N1 influenza epidemic, have been held on all five campuses.

“More than 700 individuals reported influenza-like illness on the Oakland campus during the fall term,” Fedele said. “The vast majority of these were students. Between Nov. 23 and the end of the fall term there were fewer than 10 active cases of influenza-like illness on any given day on the Oakland campus. While the number of self-reported cases of influenza-like illness in our community has apparently waned, experts caution that there could be another wave of H1N1 influenza in the coming months.”

To date, the World Health Organization has confirmed more than 12,000 people worldwide have died from the H1N1 virus influenza.

—Peter Hart

Filed under: Feature,Volume 42 Issue 9

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