Poly students line up by the hundreds for swine flu shots

Cal Poly students lined up by the hundreds outside the campus Health and Counseling Services Center on Tuesday for free swine flu shots.

The university recently received 3,500 H1N1 flu vaccines. Several of the 735 students who sought immunizations said they were concerned about the virus.

Already 400 Cal Poly students this year have shown flulike symptoms, though none has been hospitalized to the knowledge of university health officials.

That number is much higher than usual, said Martin Bragg, the university’s director of the Health and Counseling Services Center.

Seven tests of Cal Poly students administered by County Public Health Services came back positive for swine flu, which Cal Poly officials conducted to find out whether the virus is present around campus.

Tuesday was the first of three afternoons this week that the university is offering vaccines, which are available only to students.

Those with chronic health problems such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and compromised immune systems were encouraged to receive shots.

Cal Poly officials said students should be mindful of H1N1 because of the warning by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that those 24 years old and younger are recommended for the vaccine.

Other target groups include pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age, and health care and emergency medical services personnel, according to the CDC Web site.

Many of those in line said they learned about the vaccine through Cal Poly’s campuswide e-mail system that notifies students of events and information.

“I know a couple of people at Cal Poly who have come down with the swine flu,” said Michelle Fox, a 20-year-old social science student. “I’m not very worried about it, but I still wanted to get a shot just in case.”

Architectural Engineering majors Justin Schwaiger and Jeffrey Thompson said they waited about 30 minutes around 1 p.m. Tuesday to get vaccinated. The line for shots extended from the health center to South Perimeter Road and continued toward the Alex G. Spanos Stadium.

“Once you’re inside they pretty much sit you down and go over some health questions with you,” Schwaiger said. “It doesn’t take long. It’s very easy.”

The university initially requested 19,000 doses of the vaccine, and now expects to receive 7,000. Doses are expected to be available in coming weeks as needed.