By Curt Yeomans
Residents of Clayton and Henry counties will be able to receive, either the nasal spray, or the injectable form of the 2009 H1N1 influenza (Swine Flu) vaccine from health officials at Clayton State University today.
CSU's Health Services office will distribute the vaccine to anyone who comes to the Clayton State-East campus, which is located at 5823 Trammel Road, in Morrow, between 9 a.m., and 5 p.m., today.
CSU students and faculty members will be able to receive the vaccine for free, while members of the general public will only have to pay $5, according to University Health Services Director Julia Spinolo.
"We are partnering with the Clayton County Board of Health to be a distribution point for people on this side of the county, so they don't have to drive all the way [to Jonesboro] to receive the vaccine," Spinolo said.
Spinolo said the 6,594-student university received doses of the H1N1 vaccine, numbering "in the thousands," last Thursday. She said it has already been distributed to University Health Services employees, students living in the university's residence hall, and nursing and dental hygiene students at the school because they fall within groups at high risk for contracting the flu.
Widespread distribution of the vaccine began Monday among Clayton State students, faculty and staff members, and their families.
"We've had a steady stream of people coming to get the vaccine throughout the day," Spinolo said. "We will still have enough to provide the vaccine to the general public, though. We're going to have a very large number of doses available [today]."
University Health Services has both the injectable and nasal spray forms of the vaccine available, Spinolo said. She added that people can chose which form they want to receive, but there are guidelines set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that prescribe specific vaccine types for particular members of the community.
According to the CDC's web site, the nasal spray, which is made from a weakened, live form of the virus, is recommended for "healthy" people between the ages of 2 and 49, with the exception of pregnant women. The CDC's web site reports that children between the ages of 2 and 9 will need to receive two doses of the nasal spray, at least 28 days apart.
The CDC also recommends that pregnant women; people under the age of 2, and over 50; people with chronic heart or lung diseases; individuals with diabetes; children under the age of 5 with a history or wheezing, and people who are allergic to chicken eggs or any nasal spray vaccine components, receive the injectable form of the vaccine. The injectable form is made from a killed flu virus, according to the CDC's web site.
Anyone who wants to receive the vaccine, will need to sign a consent form beforehand, Spinolo said. She said the consent form can be obtained from the University Health Services' web site, http://nursing.clayton.edu/uhs/, or from health services employees at Clayton State-East.
Mark Mink, 59, a Marietta resident who is working on a paralegal certificate at Clayton State, said he chose to get vaccinated on Monday for a number of reasons, including uncertainty about the flu, and the availability of the vaccine.
Since the vaccine was introduced in October, there have been reports of shortages across the nation. "You can't find it in too many spots right now, because there have been so many shortages," Mink said. "It's hard to know if it has peaked already, or if the worst is still to come, so I just thought it's better to be safe than sorry. Plus, it's free, and you can't beat that."
John Parkerson, Clayton State's director of international programs, said he decided to receive the H1N1 vaccine on Monday because of the close proximity thousands of people have everyday on the school's main campus in Morrow.
"I wanted to do whatever is recommended, in order to prevent acquiring this type of flu," Parkerson said. "We work in an environment where there are a lot of people in a confined space, so it's possible for something contagious to spread quickly, if we're not prepared for it."