By Mark Brownlee
Students, staff and faculty at Carleton University unexpectedly received the H1N1 vaccine from the school’s health services Tuesday morning after about 30 people failed to show up for their appointments on Monday. The clinics, which opened Monday afternoon, have enough of the vaccine for about 125 people a day until they close on Thursday.
The number of no-shows meant that people visiting the health and counselling services clinic on the Carleton campus for regular appointments were given the opportunity to receive the vaccine.
“If they want them, we give it to them,” said Maureen Murdock, director of health and counselling services at Carleton.
Health officials have to use the vaccine 24 hours after it’s mixed with the adjuvant, meaning that it would have gone to waste if it wasn’t used Tuesday morning. Murdock was unable to say how much was left over after Monday’s clinic.
“We only mixed what we needed yesterday and we only have a few doses left over and we gave it to the students that wanted it this morning,” she said.
Health and counselling services decided to change their policy for Tuesday’s round of vaccinations. They sent an e-mail to students in residence saying they would be able to receive the vaccine if they showed up without an appointment.
The clinic was met with high demand from the university community when registration opened last Thursday morning. All of the roughly 500 spots were filled only a few hours after the spots were made available.
“As I went to register I could see the numbers going higher and higher…Within 5 minutes I think they all filled up,” said Niko Tzakis, a third-year Carleton student, while waiting in line Monday.
“It’s the first time we’ve used a registration system. Normally, we just let people come on a first-come, first-served kind of thing,” said Carleton’s Murdock.
Ottawa Public Health established a wristband system to try to cut down on wait times at city vaccination clinics. Those looking to receive the vaccine can show up to receive their wristband, then show up closer to the time they will be called.
Carleton’s clinic is one of the few to use pre-booked appointments. The University of Ottawa also used the appointment system for their H1N1 clinics held last week and were able to vaccinate about 4600 people after receiving about 5000 doses of the vaccine.
The remaining doses, about 350 of them, were left unmixed and sent to a health services group on campus to distribute. About 50 vaccines were wasted.
Carleton has received enough of the vaccine to inoculate 500 people before the special clinics close on Thursday. Health officials expect to receive more vaccine next week.