In a departure from its original plan, University Health Services (UHS) yesterday opened a ten-day program to offer students who received swine flu vaccines last month a second dose of possible protection.
The new immunization program comes in response to a recent government announcement that one dose of the vaccine will probably not protect most 18- to 24-year-oldsagainst swine influenza. The U.S. Center for Disease Control issued a bulletin in November recommending that everyone in that age range receive a second dose.
Dr. Sholem Postel, associate director of UHS, said yesterday that about 1800 young adults received swine flu vaccines in Memorial Hall last month.
The government bulletin said only 50 per cent of all 18 to 24 year olds would be protected after one vaccine, but that a second shot would raise the figure to 90 per cent.
Disease control center officials released the 50 per cent figure this summer, and government officials acknowledged in August that young adults might need a booster shot for full protection.
Panic in Needle Park
But in early fall, when problems of vaccine supply and distribution became paramount, officials did not stress the need for a second dose. The assistant director of the national swine flu program, Dr. H. Bruce Dull, said after an October speech at the School of Public Health that he thought one injection would be adequate.
Government officials now say that more extensive field trials this fall convinced them that young adults need two shots.
The head of the Massachusetts swine flu program, Tony Dutra '74, said yesterday that the second dose was "pretty much essential" for 18-to 24-year-olds.
Dutra attributed the delay in the government decision to slow action by the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a semi-independent group of vaccine experts with considerable power over the disease control center's policy.
Taking a Break
"They have been quite lax in their duties," Dutra said, adding, "They should have come up with this before the program began."
Dutra said the center may have downplayed the second shot because agency officials hoped the advisory committee would not insist on the booster.
Postel said UHS will offer the second dose on the fourth floor of the University clinic.
"We're obviously not going back into Memorial Hall," Postel said, "but we've geared up a little." Postel added that UHS was prepared to give about 180 shots each day, but that few students appeared on the first day.
"We're sort of sitting here waiting for people to come," Postel said