Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=154215
Story Retrieval Date: 5/21/2013 8:21:40 AM CST
The number of reported H1N1 cases has declined, according to the latest CDC report, filed Jan. 15. But members of Chicago's public health sector are anxious that there will be another surge of the flu in the city, leaving unvaccinated individuals at risk.
“No one can predict if there will be a third wave,” said Amy Poore, spokeswoman for the Cook County Department of Public Health. “We still have an ample supply of vaccines.”
Public health organizations and retail pharmacies are targeting individuals still undecided about getting the vaccine.
“Everybody who wants a shot has stepped forward to get one,” said Tim Hadac, director of public information at the Chicago Department of Public Health. “Now we are trying to dig down to people who may be on the fence about getting a vaccination.”
The department is offering free vaccinations at neighborhood-based clinics through the end of January. Some pharmacies and clinics across the city are providing vaccinations for $18 to $20.
Demand was high when the supply of H1N1 vaccine was limited in number and places, explained Michele Flanagan, a lead nurse practitioner for the Take Care Clinic, a subsidiary of Walgreens.
Flanagan has witnessed a decrease in the volume of people coming in to get the vaccine. “The demand has steadied out, now that the vaccine is available at more places to more people.”
“We’ve allocated over 140 million doses of the vaccine,” said Tom Skinner, a CDC public affairs specialist. “We still have a number of weeks in the flu season to go and recommend that people continue to get vaccinated because we can’t say for certain how much activity we’ll see in the upcoming weeks.”
The U.S. government battled for months with manufacturers to make the vaccine available. It is now trying to distribute the millions of purchased immunizations to complacent individuals. So far 113.4 million doses have been distributed to the states.
“To estimate the demand is difficult,” Skinner said. “With flu activity being unpredictable – and therefore demand unpredictable – we wanted to make sure we had enough for everyone. We’re not done.”
“Every year there are vaccines that expire and get thrown away,” Hadac said. “There are always more doses of vaccines than people who get them. It’s better that than having too little of a vaccine.”