Inoculation program delayed by a week
H1N1 vaccines are on their way to Lee County, but the wait to receive the swine flu deterrent will be continued a week.
Lee County Health Department Spokeswoman Jennifer James-Mesloh said that sufficient quantities of the vaccine are not expected to arrive in time to meet the first projected Oct. 19 start date.
Instead, the vaccines will now be available starting Oct. 26.
“In order to start mass vaccination clinics, to do two a night for four nights a week, we needed enough supply to keep the clinics open and going,” she said.
Vaccinations will be available at 12 area high schools, including: Cape Coral High School, Fort Myers High, Dunbar, Island Coast, East Lee, North Fort Myers, Mariner, Estero, South Fort Myers, Lehigh, Cypress Lake and Riverdale.
LCHS is recommending that everyone receive the vaccine, but high risk groups will be the first to be vaccinated.
Children and young adults ages 6 months through 24 years, pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months old, health care and emergency medical service workers, people aged 25 to 64 years who have a higher risk of medical complications from influenza.
James-Mesloh said the vaccine, once shipped from various manufacturers, has to pass through federal, state, and local agencies before making it into the health department’s hands.
“They’re shipping it out just a trickle at a time,” James-Mesloh said. “We’re going to get it, we’re just getting a little less than we had hoped for to start with.”
Though the vaccination schedule concludes before Thanksgiving, further dates could be available if the community needs it.
The LCHD is still looking for volunteers for all the clinics. Volunteer applications can be found online at LeeEOC.com.
For more information on the H1N1 vaccine, or the vaccination schedule, visit the LCHD Web site at leechd.com, or call the state’s swine flu hotline at 877-352-3581. The hotline is open 24 hours, and staffed 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. seven days a week.