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More than 1,600 Brown students have signed up to be immunized against H1N1 this week, now that the vaccine is available to all college students 24 and under in Rhode Island. About 350 students ventured to a makeshift clinic in Josiah's to get the vaccine Tuesday, the first day immunizations were available on campus.

"I was amazed that it was that many," said Director of Health Services Edward Wheeler. "That's pretty good for the first day."

A medical service provider, the Wellness Company, is administering vaccines on behalf of the Rhode Island Department of Health alongside nurses from Health Services, said Wheeler, who sent e-mails to undergraduates Monday and Tuesday about the online appointment-making system.

The health department, which decides when and how to distribute the vaccine, required that students make appointments in order to receive the vaccine, a decision Wheeler said was a "smart move."

The appointment-only system "works much better when you're doing such a high number of vaccines," he said.

"So far it has been running really smoothly," Wheeler said.

He said he expects 350 to 400 students per day and about 4,000 to 5,000 in total to receive the vaccine before the clinic ends Dec. 18. The health department has allocated the University enough vaccine to meet that demand, he said.

Next semester, students will be able to make appointments to get vaccinated at Health Services, he said.

The health department recommends that college students get vaccinated regardless of whether or not they have recently experienced flu-like symptoms — and even if they have previously tested positive for the swine flu.

"It's possible to have a false positive," Wheeler said.

About 750 Brown students have reported flu-like illness since Sept. 1, according to Wheeler. Of those, 37 have been tested for the H1N1 virus. Eighteen of those tests came out positive.

Despite some rumors floating around to the contrary, Wheeler said, the risk of an allergic reaction to the H1N1 vaccine is no higher than it is for any other immunization. Still, students are required to stay at Jo's for 15 minutes following the vaccination in case a reaction occurs.

The H1N1 vaccine comes in the form of a "painless" nasal spray, Wheeler said, although a limited number of injections are available for those with certain medical conditions.
Health Services is giving students the opportunity to schedule appointments one week at a time. As of Tuesday evening, most of the appointments for this week were filled, Wheeler said.

"If people have trouble getting an appointment, they should keep trying, because we will be getting more vaccine as the weeks go on," he said.
 




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