Fordham University Offers H1N1 Vaccine Clinic for Students


Published: November 5, 2009

The Fordham University health centers started administering the Influenza A (H1N1) Monovalent Nasal-Spray Flu Vaccine (Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine [LAIV]) to students on Nov. 2. With only 1,000 doses, according to Kathleen Malara, director of health services, for the 7,806 currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students at the Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) campus, the vaccines are being offered on a first come, first serve basis.

The Fordham community received an e-mail from the university’s emergency management council announcing that the H1N1 vaccination clinic would run during normal health center hours from Nov. 2 to Nov. 5. The nasal-spray vaccine costs $15.

“The Department of Health allows clinics to charge an ‘administrative fee’ to cover costs associated with administering the vaccine such as additional staff and supplies. However… this can be waived in hardship cases,” Malara said. Students must also sign a consent form declaring that they are healthy, with no prior problems that may disqualify them from receiving the vaccine.

The reason for the consent form is that the nasal-spray vaccine contains a live, weakened strain of the H1N1 virus, like the FluMist nasal spray used for the seasonal flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site recommends that only healthy individuals between the ages of two and 49, who are not pregnant, receive the nasal-spray vaccine.  Those with asthma, diabetes or other disorders that weaken the immune system should not receive the nasal-spray vaccine.

“Six students who attend classes on the Lincoln Center campus have been seen in the Health Center for an influenza-like-illness,” said Keith Eldredge, dean of students at FCLC. As stated in the Observer’s Oct. 8 article, “40 Suspected H1N1 Cases at Rose Hill; None at Lincoln Center,” students with the illness are asked to avoid class and self-isolate.

“I know a lot things about how wildly contagious the swine flu is, and I’m a singer.  I can’t get sick,” said Zach Aaronson, FCLC ’12. “I’m really glad they’re offering this here.  It’s so convenient. I mean, I live in the building.  It doesn’t get easier.”

Others are more apprehensive. Anna Loizeaux, FCLC ’10, will not receive the nasal-spray vaccine or the injectable vaccine.

“I feel like influenza is always changing, and a vaccine will only serve to make the virus stronger and our immunities to it lesser,” said Loizeaux. “How do we know that H1N1 won’t be different in a month? The possible side effects, including paralyzation, don’t seem worth it to me.”

Joel Rowe, FCLC ’09 and currently an AmeriCorps/Community HealthCorp Service member, received the injectable vaccine, but not from Fordham.

“I had a mild reaction. I had soreness and stiffness in my left side, where the vaccine was injected. I took Tylenol and it went away in an hour,” Rowe said. “I did hesitate some before getting the vaccine, but I would’ve gotten it either way. Measles, mumps are mandatory. People don’t even think of vaccines. It’s the same type of public health concern.”

When asked about possible side effects, Aaronson said, “I’m a little concerned, but I’ll be okay.  It’ll be better than not getting the vaccine… My mother is very happy that I’m getting [the vaccine].”

“Staying healthy and washing your hands is the best defense in my opinion. What’s more, I think the whole H1N1 ‘threat’ has been blown way out of proportion,” said Loizeaux. “I feel like if we’re not surrounded by antibacterial gel, we’re getting an e-mail regarding updates or encouraging us to get the vaccine.”

“People need to realize that this is a viral infection like any other viral sickness. The best way to prevent it is common sense,” said Rowe. “These health debates trump people taking their own innovative. People need to wash their hands and not leave the house when [they’re] sick.”

“I understand the university doesn’t want an outbreak of a contagious disease,” Loizeaux said. “I just don’t see the H1N1 as more threatening to me or my fellow students [than] the regular flu or any other contagious disease that’s inevitably floating through Fordham’s buildings.”

The CDC recommends that persons aged six months to 24 years old receive the vaccine. According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Web site (, the H1N1 vaccine is being distributed in three different phases to public and private schools throughout the city. The number of doses each school receives is based on the percentage of the population attending the school. For instance, if there are a million doses allocated to students in New York City, each school will receive the same percentage of the doses correlating to their percentage of students. A school with 12 percent of the city’s students has received 12 percent of the available doses. More doses will be shipped as they become available, in both the nasal-spray and injectable forms.

“I think [the vaccine] should be offered in public places, like schools.  You’re in such close proximity to other people,” said Rowe. “It makes a lot of sense; so many people are away from home and their primary care facility. Why not bring [the vaccine] to them?”

“I was told that they now have the injectable version, so they are offering that, also,” Eldredge said on Nov. 3. The day before, the injectable vaccine was unavailable, but students unable to receive the nasal-spray vaccine registered on a waiting list. The health center expects to contact those waiting in the order of which they signed up.