H1N1 vaccinations come to Evanston, to be administered soon

Nathalie Tadena

Evanston received a shipment of H1N1 vaccines Thursday, said Evonda Thomas, director of the city’s Department of Health and Human Services.

The city received 5,000 doses of the injectable vaccine and 5,000 doses of the nasal spray vaccine. The department had originally expected to receive the shipment in mid-October.

“We are planning on doing vaccination clinics November 7th and November 8th as the vaccine is available,” Thomas said.

The city will hold free vaccination clinics at Evanston Township High School, 1600 Dodge Ave., for residents identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as high-risk “priority groups,” including pregnant women, students and parents of young children.

Thomas said she expects there to be enough vaccines to accommodate the city’s at-risk populations. After priority groups are vaccinated, the Department of Health and Human Services will determine how to distribute vaccinations for other populations depending on the vaccine’s availability.

Safety concerns over flu outbreak lead to closing of local school St. Athanasius School, 2510 Ashland Ave., closed Oct. 23 and re-opened Oct. 27 after several students showed flu-like symptoms, said Susan Castagna, the school’s principal. Closing the school for a couple of days was an effort to try to get the virus out of the building, she said.

“Flu-like symptoms can be contagious,” she said. “We wanted to not only let those children to recover, but also let their siblings stay home.”

Before closing, the school had seen a higher number of absences due to sickness earlier in the week. There were also more absences than usual when the school re-opened Tuesday, but attendance levels are back to normal numbers, Castagna said.

The school “is still continuing to be careful” by disinfecting surfaces daily, providing anti-bacterial lotion in facilities and using gloves.

“Swine flu seems to be what is going around now,” Castagna said, noting that it is not yet the time of year for seasonal influenza.

The city has also announced free school-based vaccination clinics for students, teachers and staff members at 20 Evanston schools, including St. Athanasius and ETHS.

Vaccination clinics for Northwestern community members will be held Nov. 17, Nov. 18 and Nov. 19 with school identification.