Thousands vaccinated at Dal

While more than 10,000 people at Dalhousie University have received the H1N1 vaccine, many others maintain they will not get the shot and are not worried about the virus.

Dalhousie University has confirmed around 10,000 students, staff and faculty have received the H1N1 vaccine either at university clinics or as part of placement or employment at medical facilities.

This total accounts for nearly half of the 16,000 students and 3,500 faculty and staff at the university. The number of university members who have been immunized at facilities outside of the university sphere would undoubtedly make this figure much higher.

When the Department of Health expanded the vaccine priority group to include the population at large, Dalhousie set up mass vaccination clinics to serve students, staff and faculty. For three days, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2, Dalhousie health services gave out around 5,000 vaccines at the clinics. Thousands more were distributed at the health services clinics and at health-care facilities where members of the university community were employed or completing work placements.

It has been three months since Canada began making the vaccine available and much of the H1N1 concern has dissipated. At the university, health authorities are not worried about the possibility of an epidemic.

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Dalhousie University students talk about the decision to get or not get the H1N1 vaccine and how worried they are about a third wave this semester. Video: Meghan Walsh, Allison McCabe

By the numbers:

Vaccines distributed:

Dalhousie University mass vaccination clinics: 5,000

Dalhousie health services clinic: 2,400

Dalhousie health care placement/ employment: 2,000-3,000

(Source: Dalhousie University health services)

In Nova Scotia (as of Dec 13. 2009): 703,100

Canada: 40% of population

(Source: Public Health Agency of Canada)

Derrick Enslow, program manager of Dalhousie health promotion, says he is confident the vast majority of university students and employees received the vaccination. He cites the low levels of infection as evidence the university community is effectively protected from the virus.

Yet, many students say they did not take advantage of the university's vaccination program and are not worried about the virus. But if, as scientists warn, there is be a third wave of infection in the spring, the number of people who are immunized will be a critical variable in controlling the illness.

Cindy LeBlanc, a second-year political science student says she didn't get the vaccine because of how quickly it was developed.

"There was so much hype over it," she says, "I have a pretty good immune system and that's it, I didn't want it, didn't need it."



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