By next week, the wait for the H1N1 vaccine will be over—at least for some students.
On Wednesday, the Maine Center for Disease Control (Maine CDC) informed College health administrators that a shipment of H1N1 vaccine would be delivered next week.
"They can't tell us how much," said Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster, "but we know we're getting something."
Though the Maine CDC has been receiving the vaccine in both nasal spray and injectable form, Director of Health Services Sandra Hayes said that "we are expecting the injectable vaccine."
Anxiety about the vaccine's availability has made headlines across the nation this week.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that by the end of this month, the government estimates that they will have only manufactured "about 28 million doses."
This estimate falls "about 30 percent below the 40 million it had previously predicted," the New York Times reported.
In a Maine CDC press call on Monday afternoon, Director Dr. Dora Mills said that Maine is in a similar situation as the rest of the country, and has significantly fewer doses of vaccine than it was expecting to have by the end of October.
"We were expecting about 260,000 doses by October 30," Mills said. "We are now hoping that by the end of this week, we'll have about 112,000 doses."
"We have about 68,000 right now," she added.
According to Mills, the majority of the doses that the Maine CDC receives have been distributed to children and pregnant women. Pediatric health care providers of caregivers of infants under six months old have also been given vaccine in some cases.
As vaccine continues to arrive in Maine, however, the Maine CDC will begin to immunize a broader range of populations beyond high-risk groups.
Mills said that of "the vast majority of vaccine that we hope to get," the Maine CDC "anticipates distributing it primarily to schools."
She added that there has been "a surge of H1N1 across the state," as well as throughout New England.
Bowdoin, however, has seen relatively few cases of H1N1 in recent weeks.
Currently there are three students who are ill, one is in isolation on campus and two have gone home.
"It's really, really dropped off," said Foster, "and its dropped off at a time when I think that students' immune systems are arguably more compromised now than they were at the beginning of the semester."
Bowdoin's waning number of outbreaks led the Maine CDC to prioritize the need for vaccine at other institutions, such as Bates, over Bowdoin earlier this month.
However, there is now enough vaccine in the state to allot a portion to the College—despite the recent drop in flu cases.
Once the H1N1 vaccine arrives, Foster said that students will be prioritized based on their potential for health complications if they were to catch the flu.
"We'll first focus on people who are at greatest risk," said Foster.
According to Hayes, the vaccine will be offered to others if the shipment contains enough doses.
"Depending on the amount we receive we will vaccinate all students who request it," she said.