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Since a free H1N1 vaccine became available Tuesday, hundreds of undergraduate students have been vaccinated against the virus and thousands more have scheduled appointments to be immunized.

Students who spoke to The Herald after getting vaccinated said it was a painless and hassle-free experience.

"It was really easy to do," Cara Rosenbaum '12 said.

Rosenbaum added that she got the vaccine because "my mom kept bugging me."

"It's good that they're making it available at Brown," Madeline Meth '11 said, adding that her mother had been "badgering" her to get immunized.

As of Wednesday afternoon, appointment slots had been filled through Monday, Dec. 7. The clinic, located in Josiah's, will run until Dec. 18., Director of Health Services Edward Wheeler said. Students who are unable to schedule appointments should try again the following week, he said.

The vaccine is only available to students under 24 years old based on the Rhode Island Department of Health's distribution protocol.

Still, not all students are lining up to get the vaccine.

Alex Wankel '11 said he is not planning to get the inoculation because the potential risks of the vaccine outweigh the benefits.

"They just came out with this vaccine and I don't think it's very well understood," Wankel said.

The swine flu is "a lot like other flus, so I'm not worried about it," he added. "It would be inconvenient to get sick, but I'm sure I could manage."

Tim Terhaar '11 said he is banking on a strong immune system. "I've never gotten the flu in the past," he said.

On the other hand, Halie Rando '11, a former Herald copy editor, said she was in a rush to receive the immunization because of her asthma. "If I get (the H1N1 virus) I'll be in really big trouble," she said.

Between e-mails from the director of Health Services, table slips in the dining halls and, for some, additional e-mails from the athletic director or residential counselors, students said they felt well informed about the vaccine's availability.

Students didn't all know the logistics, such as having to wait for 15 minutes after the vaccination in case of an allergic reaction, and some were anxious about FluMist, the nasal spray through which the vaccine is administered to individuals without specific health concerns.

Kate Carbone '12 said she heard, but highly doubts, a story about someone who "can only walk backwards now" because the spray activated a latent neurological disorder. Rosenbaum similarly heard from a peer that she should not kiss anyone for 48 hours after getting the immunization.

In reality, the risks of the vaccine are no greater than for any other influenza vaccine, Wheeler said, adding that the only possible side effects are rare allergic reactions.

Most students who got the vaccine said they booked appointments mainly because, like Sophie Kainen '12, they figured that "there's nothing worse than getting the flu during finals."

"There's nothing to lose," Kainen added.



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