SWINE FLU - MULTIMEDIA
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Swine flu clinics
The health department will offer the H1N1 vaccine to high-risk populations at the following locations;
Monday, Nov. 9, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., North Collier Regional Park, 15000 Livingston Road, North Naples.
Tuesday, Nov. 10, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., former Kmart, 12713 U.S. 41 E. in the Freedom Square shopping plaza.
H1N1 vaccination clinics
The Collier County School District is offering vaccinations to all students. Elementary schools will hold morning clinics from 8:45 to 11:15 a.m. and afternoon clinics from 12:15 to 2:30 p.m., except as noted. Middle schools will host all-day clinics from 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and afternoon clinics from 12:30 p.m. to 3:20 p.m., except as noted. High schools will hold morning clinics from 8 to 11:30 a.m. and all-day clinics from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
The following are the dates for the vaccination clinics:
Tuesday, Nov. 10: Lake Trafford Elementary School will have a clinic in the morning; Immokalee High School will have a clinic all day; Immokalee Middle School will have an alternate clinic from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 12: Gulfview Middle School will have a clinic all day; Golden Gate Elementary School will have a clinic in the morning; Golden Gate Intermediate School will have a clinic in the afternoon.
Friday, Nov. 13: Sea Gate Elementary School will have a clinic in the morning; Pine Ridge Middle School will have a clinic all day.
Monday, Nov. 16: Shadowlawn and Laurel Oak elementary schools will have a clinic in the morning; Avalon and Vineyards elementary schools will have clinics in the afternoon.
Tuesday, Nov. 17: Highlands and Pinecrest elementary schools will have a clinic in the morning.
Wednesday, Nov. 18: Lorenzo Walker Technical High School and Calusa Park Elementary School will have a clinic in the morning; East Naples Middle School will have a clinic in the afternoon.
Thursday, Nov. 19: Barron Collier High School will have a clinic all day.
Friday, Nov. 20: Golden Gate High School will have a clinic in the morning; Mike Davis Elementary School will have a clinic in the afternoon.
Monday, Nov. 23: Naples High School will have a clinic all day.
Tuesday, Nov. 24: Veterans Memorial Elementary School will have a clinic in the morning; North Naples Middle School will have a clinic in the afternoon.
Monday, Nov. 30: Naples Park Elementary School will have a clinic in the morning; Oakridge Middle School will have a clinic all day.
Wednesday, Dec. 2: Village Oaks Elementary School will have a clinic from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Lee H1N1 clinics
The Lee County Health Department has made some schedule changes.
The clinics are at Lee County high schools.
The high-risk populations who are recommended to come to one of the clinics are pregnant women, household contacts and caregivers of infants under 6 months old, people between 6 months and 24, health care workers and people who have cancer, blood disorders, chronic lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disorders, liver disorders, neurological disorders, neuromuscular disorders and weakened immune systems.
Monday, Nov. 9: 4 to 9 p.m., Lehigh Senior High S chools
Tuesday, Nov. 10: 4 to 9 p.m., Estero High School
Thursday, Nov. 12: 4 to 9 p.m., Island Coast and Riverdale high schools
Saturday, Nov. 14: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Dunbar High School
Monday, Nov. 16: 4 to 9 p.m., Lehigh Senior and Cape Coral high schools
Tuesday, Nov. 17: 4 to 9 p.m., Island Coast and Riverdale high schools
Wednesday, Nov. 18: 4 to 9 p.m., Fort Myers and East Lee County high schools
Thursday, Nov. 19: 4 to 9 p.m., Estero and Lehigh Senior high schools
Saturday, Nov. 21: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., South Fort Myers High School
NAPLES — Kim Witmer was facing a predicament with her second pregnancy.
Earlier this summer, Witmer, 34, didn’t think much of the swine flu but then the situation turned much more disconcerting.
She is now in the 17th week of her pregnancy and everyone in the media and government is talking about the H1N1 vaccine, she said.
“The concern is how safe is it and is there any impact to the fetus?” Witmer said. “There’s really not much information out there that is concrete.”
On the other hand, if she were to contract H1N1 and something could happen to the fetus, how could she forgive herself for not getting the shot?
When she visited her Naples obstetrician recently, Dr. Michael Dent explained to her why it is recommended to get the shot and how women’s immune systems become weaker during pregnancy and why they are high-risk for H1N1.
“If it is my doctor recommending it, I will (get it),” Witmer said. “I am putting my trust in my OB.”
The H1N1 pandemic is making for a tense time for expectant women, a risk group that faces the highest hospitalization and death rate from the novel flu strain.
Obstetricians are busy tracking the science behind the H1N1 vaccine for the barrage of questions from their pregnant patients.
Southwest Florida obstetricians seem tilted in favor of their expecting patients getting it, saying the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks of contracting swine flu.
At least one local obstetrician, Dr. Joseph Gauta, who is president of the Collier County Medical Society, said he is reluctantly advising his patients to get the vaccine even though he won’t be offering it. His partners, Dr. Jody Alexander and Dr. Emily Clements, likewise are not offering the H1N1 vaccine, he said.
When he needed to order the H1N1 vaccine a few months ago, he was more leery of it than he is now, he said.
“The way it is made seems to be safe, but we have said that before,” Gauta said.
From a professional standpoint, he is advising his pregnant patients to get the vaccine because that is the recommendation of his professional medical associations and the Centers for Disease Control.
“Personally, I have mixed feelings,” Gauta said. “I don’t want anyone getting it because of the fear.”
At last count, the CDC has reported 28 deaths from H1N1 among pregnant women. At the same time, expectant women are hearing the swine flu has been mild so far, he said.
Several other obstetricians contacted don’t share Gauta’s views.
“I practice science-based medicine and the science behind H1N1 is very strong,” said Dr. Blane Mitchell Crandall, who has a concierge obstetrics/gynecology practice in Naples.
If the vaccine is able to prevent deaths and hospitalizations, then it is the right thing to do, he said, adding that the H1N1 death rate among pregnant women has been disproportionately high. “I’m getting it, my daughters have already had theirs.”
About six percent of confirmed H1N1 deaths in the United States have involved pregnant women, while only one percent of the general population is pregnant at any given time, the CDC reports.
Early advisories suggested pregnant women receive two doses but the National Institutes of Health said this past week that a study has found a single dose produced a “robust immune response in healthy pregnant women.” Blood samples were taken 21 days after vaccination from 50 of 120 women in the study group.
The reasoning for pregnant women to get the vaccine is that during pregnancy, the immune system tones itself down and so the women are more compromised for different infections.
“Pregnant women are less likely to mount a really good response to (the flu),” Crandall said, adding that infectious disease specialists also are recommending people get the H1N1 vaccine. So far, his pregnant patients are on board with getting it,
Dent acknowledges there’s been a lot of controversy about the vaccine but for pregnant women, there’s no question they should get it for two reasons. One is the compromised immune system but a second reason is to guard against the mother becoming infected after she delivers and risk of the newborn becoming ill, he said.
The vaccine doesn’t protect the baby in the uterus but the concern is after the baby is born, the mother could get H1N1 and pass it on to the baby, he said.
“The immune system of the newborns are more the concern,” Dent said. “I’ve had (patients) talk back and forth. I would say 90 percent of my patients are prepared to get it.”
Dent doesn’t buy into the naysayers who say the vaccine was rushed into production and didn’t undergo appropriate clinical studies.
“I think the concern is trying to save lives,” Dent said. “I don’t think they cut corners on the vaccine.”
Dr. Max Kammerman, another local obstetrician/gynecologist, said he is highly recommending the vaccine.
“This is protection from the swine flu which can have fatal consequences in pregnant women,” Kammerman said. “I understand the public’s very legitimate concern with safety and how it was produced. I understand the perception it has been mass produced in a short period of time but my understanding is it has been developed and produced in the same way as the seasonal vaccine. The science is the same.”
Deb Millsap, spokeswoman for the Collier County Health Department, said seven obstetrics/gynecology group practices have ordered a total of 3,000 doses of the H1N1 vaccine. The health department estimates there are 6,000 pregnant women in the county.
Dr. Stephen Thompson, another longtime Naples obstetrician/gynecologist, said he recommends that all pregnant women get the vaccine.
“The risk of severe illness, of being in the intensive care unit or dying from the swine flu is substantial for pregnant women,” Thompson said. “They are the highest risk from the CDC for recommending the vaccine.”
Pregnant women are susceptible to any flu strain but the difference with the H1N1 is it is new and pregnant women are young and were not around the last time a virus like this was circulating so they don’t have any immunity to it, he said.
So far, he and his colleagues at Naples Obstetrics and Gynecology, have received 100 doses out of 600 ordered. “There really are no concerns. The vaccine we have for pregnant women is not a live virus.”
He said a lot of patients are hesitant because they have heard so much on the news, Thompson said.
“There really is no question about it,” he said. “The right choice is they should be vaccinated.”
Besides the CDC and the Florida Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are behind the vaccine for pregnant women, he said.
“All these groups have looked at it in great depth and say the vaccine is safe and effective,” Thompson said.
Once he sits with his patients and explains the risks, they are on board with getting it, he said.
Gauta, the Naples obstetrician who has decided not to offer it to his patients, said his decision was not based on liability concerns because the federal government has offered immunity to vaccine manufacturers and to physicians.
For more information, visit the health department’s Web site at www.CollierPrepares.org or www.myflusafety.com or call 252-8200 and chose option two on the message line. The Florida Department of Health offers a 24-hour hotline at (877) FLA-FLU1.