Cook Co. seeking docs to give H1N1 vaccinations

City to set up clinics to distribute vaccine
October 15, 2009 (CHICAGO) The county public health department put out a call for volunteers last month; so far 173 have registered. They will staff suburban, county-run, school-based clinics where mass vaccinations will be offered.

Swine flu vaccinations also will be available at county clinics, along with regular doctor offices and some retail pharmacies.

The county expects its first swine flu vaccine shipment to arrive in coming days. After that, local authorities anticipate a steady supply of vaccine from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by the end of this month or in early November.

Chicago will get its own shipments and is still working out details on city mass vaccination clinics.

The city of Chicago received a new shipment Tuesday. It's estimated about 10,000 doses came in.

The city's health committee called the city's top health official to City Hall to address the influenza pandemic Tuesday. It was question-and-answer time.

"We're in it. We're in the flu season," said Dr. Terry Mason, Chicago health commissioner.

Mason told aldermen 70 percent of the flu cases this year are H1N1.

"Most of the circulating flu is H1N1. That's why we're telling them they don't have to be tested because most of them that have flu have H1N1," said Dr. Mason.

"Briefings like this really help raise public awareness, educate people to what H1N1 is about and just how important it is to get vaccinated," said Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd Ward.

"We should make sure that people know how to have an immunization, where to receive it, and what are the conditions they should receive it," said Ald. Bob Fioretti, 2nd Ward.

Last week, the first doses of the H1N1 nasal vaccine arrived in Chicago. They went to hospitals for health care workers and those most at risk. As more doses arrive, they will be given to doctor offices and clinics.

Dr. Mason expects to receive the H1N1 inoculations by next week.

"We're putting most of this vaccine into the private sector, so that people can go to their regular doctor just like they would get any other vaccine," said Dr. Mason.

The city will set up mass clinics to administer the vaccines. They are firming up the locations but expect to have those running next week when they get even more vaccines. The clinics will likely include local colleges.

Chicago college prepares for H1N1 flu

Columbia College hasn't seen any cases of H1N1, but school officials know it's coming.

"All of the information that's coming from CDC, every day we hear more and more outbreaks throughout the country," said Bob Koverman, Columbia College.

Columbia is getting more information to students about the virus and prevention and will recommend getting the H1N1 vaccine when it's available.

"I've heard the flu going around and how it's going to more prevalent this season, which definitely makes me want to get the vaccine more," said Lorenzo Sorice, student.

"I've actually never had a flu shot, but I'm going to get one. My sister is going to make me get one. She's pretty worried, all these new viruses going around," said Demi Michalopous, student.

Benji Marton says his brother had H1N1, and it wasn't so bad.

"To be honest, I'm not too worried. I've had the flu before. If I get the flu, I'll let it run its course," said Marton, a student.

Protecting the city's college population is a concern for some officials.

"We have 67,000 colleges students downtown, and most of them are in my ward and they stay overnight, and this is a huge population," said Fioretti.

"For younger people who never been exposed to this virus before may have a much harder time with it, and that's what we're seeing," said Dr. Mason.

The city of Chicago recommends the H1N1 vaccine to:

  • children and young adults, 6 months old to 24 years old
  • 25-64 year olds with underlying medical conditions
  • pregnant woman
  • those with contact with babies younger than six months
  • healthcare personnel

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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