CHICAGO — As they battle the holiday crowds this weekend,
frazzled travelers at Chicago airports also will have the option of stopping to
get protection against the swine flu virus.
O’Hare International Airport began offering H1N1 flu
vaccines in nasal mist form this week at a clinic run by the University of
Illinois-Chicago. City officials say they also hope to receive arm-shot
vaccines this week, and plan to open kiosks to administer the vaccine at both
O’Hare and Midway this weekend.
“We feel that it is a good amenity and service for
travelers passing through the airport as well as the employees working at the
airport,” said Gregg Cunningham, a spokesman for the Department of
City officials said the UIC clinic at O’Hare now has several
hundred doses of the nasal mist. They would not specify how many more doses of
the hard-to-find vaccine the clinic had ordered, or how many were expected this
“There should be a sufficient supply to get through the
Thanksgiving holiday travel period,” said Karen Pride, director of media
relations for the Department of Aviation and a spokeswoman for both airports.
As with clinics across the country, the airport-provided
vaccines will not be available to everyone, according to the Department of
Aviation. The airports will only be giving inoculations to ticketed passengers
and airport employees who fall into the federally-defined at-risk categories.
That includes health care workers, pregnant women,
individuals between six months and 24 years of age, caregivers of children
under the age of six months, and people age 25 to 64 with underlying medical
conditions. The nasal mist version of the vaccine is given only to healthy,
non-pregnant individuals age 2 to 49.
The UIC clinic at O’Hare is currently offering the nasal
mist to qualified individuals at its facility in Terminal 2, according to
Pride. They plan to offer the medication starting Sunday in at least two
kiosks, one in Terminal 1 and the other in Terminal 3.
Midway could begin offering the vaccine as early as Saturday
in a kiosk at its concession triangle, Pride said.
Midway expects about 72,000 travelers on Sunday and O’Hare
more than 200,000 on Monday — their busiest days of the holiday, Cunningham
The airports plan to make the vaccine available between
about 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Pride said. The H1N1 mist costs $25 at O’Hare. The
clinic also offers seasonal flu shots for $35 each.
Via McClatchy-Tribune News Service.