Student Health has now replenished their stocks of flu vaccines. This comes after supply shortages caused roughly thirty students to be turned away from a vaccination clinic set up in the Dental School.
Head of Health Services Manager Margaret Perley said the shortage was due to a series of unfortunate events coming together at just the wrong time. According to her: “Our vaccine delivery is dependent on several factors - not least being an intact cold chain delivery system. On this particular day we had to hold a batch of vaccines to check the cold chain… We had no other reserve of vaccine due to national delivery unpredictability – most likely due to personnel affected by Covid-19 isolation or illness.”
Despite the premature interruption, the temporary clinic, set up in the foyer of the Dental School building, still managed to vaccinate over 100 students. There were four nurses working hard to administer vaccines at the clinic. Jess, a student who was turned away from the clinic, was not too worried about the ordeal. She said that: “I just booked in an appointment at Student Health the next day… They turned us away as soon as we turned up so we weren’t waiting around for ages or anything.”
With this year’s flu season expected to be particularly bad, experts say getting vaccinated is more important than ever. In issue 7, public health expert Dr. Lucy Telfar-Barnard told Critic Te Arohi that Aotearoa’s Covid-crushing measures also crushed the flu along with it, giving our population low immunity as we head into this year’s flu season. “The things we did to get rid of Covid got rid of the flu as well, which is great. But now here we are, not having had it for two years, and now we have to be prepared for it.”
Despite the eggheads’ concerns, Student Health has also not seen an increase in flu vaccinations over other years. Perley said that: “So far, about 2500 students have taken the opportunity to have a free flu vaccine through the University. This is about the same as pre-Covid years.”
There are multiple ways to access the flu vaccine, said Perley, and all are free for Otago Uni students. “Bookable clinics are held every day at Student Health, drop in clinics have and will continue to be held in colleges, Uniflats and the Māori Centre, and three large clinics, staffed by Student Health and Public Health South, have been held at the Dental School.” Perley is confident that stocks of flu vaccine will not run out again.