COLLIER COUNTY — The Collier County Health Department is encouraging college students and families visiting Naples and Marco Island during the holidays to take the opportunity to get their H1N1, or swine flu, vaccinations, announced Collier County Health Department Spokeswoman Deb Millsap in a prepared release Wednesday.
These individuals, as well a, anyone who would like to obtain the vaccine, are welcome to attend any of the clinics. Until Friday, regular seasonal flu vaccines were also available at the H1N1 clinics, however, that is no longer the case, officials report.
“We had seasonal vaccine until last week. Now we are out and unfortunately, I am not aware of anyone who has it locally. It appears that on a national level the majority of seasonal vaccine has been used up by now,” Millsap reported on Monday.
The swine flu clinic closest to Marco Island is the former Kmart near Collier Boulevard and U.S. 41.
Clinics at the former Kmart, 12693 Tamiami Trail East, Naples, are scheduled 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Dec. 29, Jan. 5, Jan. 7, Jan. 9, Jan. 11 and Jan. 13.
“We are aware many students away at college and people visiting for the holidays may not have been able to access vaccine in the communities they are traveling from. Therefore, we are offering clinics through the holidays to give individuals an opportunity to protect themselves, their families and the community,” explains Health Department Director, Dr. Joan Colfer.
Everyone is eligible to receive vaccine at these clinics regardless of age, health status or residency. There is no cost for the vaccine. Individuals who have insurance are asked to bring their card so an administrative fee can be billed to the insurance company to defray the cost of additional staffing for this community vaccination effort.
Because young to middle-aged adults are not typically at high risk for complications from the seasonal flu, many believe they do not need to obtain H1N1 vaccine, said Millsap.
However, surveillance of H1N1 pandemic flu indicates 90 percent of all hospitalizations and deaths have been in individuals under age 65, she continued. And although, H1N1 flu tends to be mild in most people, some suffer severe complications. Approximately 30 percent of the deaths in younger people have been in individuals who did not have an underlying health condition.
Additional clinic schedules and information is available on the Web site CollierPrepares.org or by calling the Health Department, 252-8200 and choosing option 2. For your convenience, you can go to CollierPrepares.org and print the consent form located in the upper left of the home page and bring the forms with you when you come to get vaccinated.