Flu shots starting early to ready for swine flu vaccination

The time has come to take action against this year’s complicated flu season.

The Collier County Health Department has scheduled a handful of clinics in September for residents to get a jump start on getting the seasonal flu vaccine.

In prior years, clinics for getting the flu shot didn’t start until October but the arrival of H1N1 flu, or swine flu, has caused everything to be in flux, said Deb Millsap, spokeswoman for the health department.

“We’re trying to get people immunized first for the seasonal flu,” she said. “It usually takes 10 to 14 days for it become effective for optimal immunization.”

By getting the seasonal flu shot earlier, that allows time before the expected delivery in mid-October of the H1N1 vaccine, she said.

If people decide to wait and get the seasonal vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine at the same time, that would mean waiting until mid-October and perhaps later because of priority groups for the H1N1 vaccine, she said. That creates a lag before getting protection the seasonal flu shot and protection against seasonal flu, she said.

“If you are not one of the priority groups, you are waiting until November to get H1N1 (and therefore the seasonal flu vaccine),” she said.

The health department’s seasonal flu clinics this month will be available in Everglades City on Thursday, Sept. 24, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Roller Rink at 205 Buckner Ave. The seasonal flu shot also will be available on Marco Island on Monday, Sept. 28 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Mackle Community Park at 1361 Andalusia Court.

The cost is $30 for the flu shot and $45 for the pneumonia shot. Medicare Part B will be accepted when presented.

Additional seasonal flu clinics will be at Senior Friendship Center at 811 Seventh Ave. S. on Sept. 21 and 28, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Additional days will be Oct. 5, 12 and 19 and Nov. 9 and 16. The times are 9 a.m. to noon.

The health department has received 4,000 doses of the seasonal flu vaccine. Additional clinics will be scheduled for both the seasonal flu vaccine and for the H1N1 vaccine when the H1N1 vaccine is delivered in mid-October, she said.

“The seasonal flu and H1N1 will be at the same site,” she said, adding that it has now been determined only one dose of H1N1 will be necessary.

The federal government is footing the tab for the H1N1 vaccine but there may be an administrative fee charged to patients. The health department hasn’t made a decision yet about charging a small fee to cover its administrative expenses for offering the H1N1 vaccine.

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