Clinic at Levy Center offers seniors 1,000 flu shots

Ryan Wenzel

Some of Evanston’s senior citizens finally will get a flu shot, now that the city has received a shipment of more than 1,000 vaccine doses from the federal government.

The Evanston Health and Human Services Department is offering a flu vaccination clinic today at the Levy Senior Center, 300 Dodge Ave. The clinic, which runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., takes place during a nationwide shortage that has left millions of Americans without their annual flu vaccinations.

“We’ve had no adult flu vaccine until this amount arrived,” said Jay Terry, Evanston’s director of health and human services. “We have received a considerable amount, so we’re in a position where we can continue flu shot clinics again.”

Earlier this year, British health officials recalled 46 million doses of the flu vaccine produced by Chiron Corp. The recalled vaccines constituted about half of the 100 million doses needed for U.S. residents this year.

Last month, in a move to alleviate the vaccine shortage, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve a plan to buy a minimum of 30,000 vaccine doses from overseas drug companies.

Complying with guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Evanston clinic will offer vaccinations only to those who are 65 or older, have a documented medical illness or are pregnant. The clinic also is limited to Evanston citizens.

“The CDC guidelines are voluntary, but everyone is complying,” Terry said.

The number of vaccines offered at the clinic is not enough to satisfy the growing demand in Evanston, but Levy Center Director Christina Ferraro said the clinic received more vaccines than expected.

“We started off with 300, we went to 600, then to 800 and now we’re at over 1,000,” Ferraro said. “It’s going to be busy.”

Terry also said he was thankful for the large delivery of vaccines but that it was disappointing not to be able to provide for the rest of the Evanston community.

“People between the ages of 2 and 64 who don’t fall into one of the high risk groups are likely to go without getting the flu vaccine,” Terry said. “That eliminates a lot of the people who get vaccinations as part of their yearly health practice.”

Residents at Three Crowns Park — a nursing home at 2320 Pioneer Road — are “very concerned” about the vaccine shortage, said Nursing Director Clare Lane. About half of the facility’s 100 residents plan to attend the clinic, but Lane said this attendance won’t be enough to meet their needs.

“All of them need it,” Lane said. “The ones that need it more are the more infirm residents, and we can’t take them out to get it.”

The Levy Center doesn’t expect to run out of vaccine, but Evanston’s Health and Human Services department hasn’t scheduled any other clinics this week.

“We want to see what the demand is,” Terry said. “We’re hesitant to schedule more until we see how much vaccine we use tomorrow.”

For more information, call the Levy Center at 847-866-2919.

Reach Ryan Wenzel at [email protected]