Letter: Group effort makes H1N1 vaccinations successful

Thursday concluded the on-site, joint Evanston Health and Human Services-Northwestern University H1N1 vaccination campaign for eligible faculty, staff and students. This effort was part of the larger attempt to coordinate and implement the largest vaccination campaign in the history of the United States.

As the executive director of University Health Services, I want to express my great appreciation for all those involved in this effort. Evanston Health and Human Services has been a wonderful partner in this endeavor, coordinating the overall on-site campaign and personnel as well as providing vaccine and responding quickly and assertively to daily variations in vaccine supply. Constant communication, collaborative effort, very hard work and good humor have been the order of the day, and I believe the City of Evanston and NU should be very proud of their partnership in this important public health event.

Similarly, my thanks go to the Loyola University’s nursing program, whose staff and students administered more than 4,000 vaccinations over the course of three days, and to the Evanston emergency medical technicians who so ably responded to those students who became dizzy or light-headed. The NU Office of Emergency Management and its Director Clement Stokes; University Police, including Chief Lewis, his staff and all the officers on site during the campaign; the leadership of Norris and Patten who worked so hard to provide the necessary space and equipment; and all those who serve on the University’s H1N1 Pandemic Task Force – all these and others who I may have failed to name – have been critical participants in this undertaking. I must also single out Katie Naliwajko, the University Health Service’s infection control nurse, for her ceaseless efforts to ensure the success of the operation.

I also applaud all those – faculty, staff and students – who attended the vaccination campaign, sometimes (but not too often) having to wait for more than an hour in line, who similarly responded with patience and good humor. I know some NU community members were disappointed to be turned away, but most understood, given the shortage of vaccine, the reasons and necessity for strictly complying with CDC guidelines for H1N1 vaccination eligibility.

The threat from H1N1 infection is not over. Indeed, it is expected the number of cases will increase as the weather gets colder and we approach the true “flu season.” Nonetheless, the significant number of individuals vaccinated is an important step in controlling the disease, and all of those noted above should be proud of their effort and participation.

– Dr. Donald A. MischExecutive director,Northwestern University Health ServicesClinical associate professor,Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral ScienceFeinberg School of Medicine