City, suburbs offer free H1N1 vaccines

October 26, 2009 8:40:34 AM PDT
As the number of cases continues to grow, free H1N1 flu vaccines become available in the Chicago area. The DuPage County Health Department began administering the vaccine to people most at risk on Thursday. It will be available on Saturday through the Chicago Public Health Department.

The demand for the vaccine -- both in the city and suburbs -- is high and waits are to be expected.

Chicago's vaccine info:

Chicago Health officials expect to administer 30,000 doses a week at three colleges in the city:

  • Kennedy King
  • Olive Harvey
  • Richard J Daley
  • Truman
  • Arturo Velasquez Institute
  • Wright College
  • Those vaccines will be given out Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on a first come, first serve basis. Locations/Times Free Vaccines offered in Chicago (PDF).

    "In Chicago people are concerned. They're concerned mostly because of how it affects children. And I can understand that. Now, we don't want everybody to show up because we can't give that to everybody in one day. There will be plenty of vaccine. He'll be giving vaccine almost every week," said Dr. Terry Mason, Comm. Chicago Health Dept.

    Because of limited supplies, Chicago Department of Health Commissioner Doctor Terry Mason and all health officials say until more doses come in, vaccines are reserved for:

  • pregnant women children and young adults ages six month to 24 years;
  • people who live with, or care for infants younger than 6 months;
  • people with chronic health conditions like asthma or diabetes;
  • and health care workers.
  • Officials warn people who are allergic to eggs should not get a vaccine.

    "Is it safe? Well, it's being made the same way we make all the other vaccines. And part of the reason why it's taking a little longer is because the process of production requires some very rigorous testing," said Mason.

    DuPage County vaccine info:

    Beginning today, the DuPage County Health Department is offering free doses of the vaccine at its central office. The clinic will be open from 4-8 p.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m.-3 p.m. on weekends through November 8. Times will expand next week as more vaccine arrives. In coming days, they will have appointments available at satellite offices. The time slots are already booking up. Schedule of vaccine clinics in DuPage County

    County health staff prepared an elaborate system for greeting, screening and vaccinating residents against the H1N1 virus. There are 10,000 doses of both the nasal and injectable forms of the vaccine on hand. On Thursday, 350 will be used up on those who have been persistent enough to get an appointment.

    "My wife spent about 35 minutes on the phone last night. I think she took 15 minutes to get through and 20 minutes waiting on the line," said Bill Childress, father.

    "We want to have control over crowd control and be able to get the vaccine to the people who need it first," said Maureen McHugh, executive director, DuPage County Health Department.

    McHugh believes as the clinics intensify efforts, people's misgivings about getting the H1N1 vaccine will fade. They'll see their friends and neighbors coming in and experiencing minor if any complications from either the mist or the shot.

    "Whenever something new hits the horizon, people are a little skeptical. As they see people get the vaccine and respond to the vaccine positively and have really no negative outcomes, I think confidence will grow," said McHugh.

    The state's chief of public health, Dr. Damn Arnold, is adamant the vaccine is safe. And those who don't choose to get it are playing a dangerous game with their own health and that of their loved ones.

    "The benefit to me is so far outweighing any potential risk," said Dr. Arnold.

    Lake County, Ind. vaccines

    Health officials in Lake County, Ind., are also offering the H1N1 flu vaccine.

    It is being given out Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the government complex administration building on main street in Crown Point. For details, call (888) 416-1284.

    Lake County, Ill. vaccines: Schedule of vaccine clinics in Lake County, IL.


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