Vaccinations abound as cases decline

The number of infected cases for swine flu on campus and in Oswego County has decreased, as well as the number of those receiving vaccinations since the November swine flu peak.

Oswego State administered swine flu clinics and took action to promote the vaccination in the fall semester. But as 2009 drew to a close, both media attention and the number of people infected dwindled.

"Interest in the issue has waned. In the fall, we ordered 6,000 vaccinations, but a little less than 2,000 people actually received the vaccination," said Jean Grant, director of Student Health Services at Walker Health Center. "We usually always have to call to get orders in, but this semester, we haven’t had to call once. The number of vaccines administered has greatly decreased."

The main reason for the decreased interest concerning swine flu is that the number of infected cases has decreased not just on campus, but also in Oswego County. Due to decreased demand for the vaccine, the Oswego County Health Department has also stopped placing orders. However, they have an ample supply of the swine vaccine in reserve.

"With our peak number being in November, and our numbers declining since then, we have vaccinated over 6,000 people," said Eliza St. Onge, the public emergency health coordinator for the Oswego County Health Department. "A few reasons for the decrease are that there is less illness, plenty of opportunity for people to receive the vaccine, and we are not seeing as much 2009 H1N1 influenza at this time."

The New York State Department of Health acquires vaccines from the federal government, then distributes the vaccines to counties based on how much the county requests. Any health care provider—such as the Mary Walker Health Center—can also place an order through the New York State Health Department.

"Initially, vaccines were limited, and only made available to target populations," St. Onge said. "We currently have a supply of vaccines available for anyone interested in receiving the vaccine, free of charge."

Although the number of swine flu cases has decreased since November, there is no reason for celebration just yet. Swine flu is still a serious issue, according to St. Onge.

"Influenza causes serious respiratory illness that can lead to hospitalization and death," she said. "Now is a great time to get vaccinated. We expect to see a third wave of 2009 H1N1, and we will start to see an increase of seasonal flu in the coming weeks. Getting vaccinated against influenza is your best way to reduce your risk of getting ill with the flu."