University Health Services (UHS) will conclude offering seasonal flu vaccinations in about two weeks as the University’s health care workers prepare for the arrival of the first doses of H1N1 influenza vaccine.
In preparation for a busy flu season, UHS ordered 19,000 doses of seasonal flu vaccine and began offering vaccinations earlier than in past years and at more flu clinics across the campus. About 4,500 doses remain.
The seasonal flu vaccine is recommended for almost everybody, but particularly for people with chronic medical conditions that put them at increased risk in the presence of influenza. Anyone with a Harvard ID or Harvard University Health Group Plan card is eligible to receive the vaccine through UHS flu clinics.
But seasonal flu shots offer no protection against the spread of H1N1 influenza, known colloquially as “swine flu,’’ the novel strain of influenza that has been spreading around the globe. While this new strain of flu has proven so far to not be as severe as public health officials once expected it would be, generally speaking, most people have no immunity to H1N1 influenza.
Public health officials have said that the H1N1 vaccine — both live virus vaccines and inactivated flu virus vaccines — should be available either later this month or in November.
There are several groups of people who should not receive the live-virus vaccine, including children younger than 2 years old and pregnant women. But Harvard has not ordered any of the live virus. The University is expecting to receive only vaccines with the inactivated virus. When the H1N1 vaccine arrives, UHS will follow guidelines established by public health officials to prioritize its distribution.
For more information about H1N1, please visit harvard.edu/h1n1.