BANGOR, Maine — About 8,000 doses of H1N1 flu vaccine will be available at no charge this Wednesday at Bangor Civic Center. Unlike clinics offered earlier this fall to schoolchildren, Wednesday’s event will be open to an expanded group of individuals at heightened risk from the H1N1 virus, regardless of where they live, including:
— Pregnant women.
— Healthy children and young adults 4 to 25 years of age.
— Health care workers.
— People under 65 years old with chronic health conditions.
— Caregivers and others regularly in close contact with infants 6 months old and under.
— Schoolchildren under 10 in need of a second “booster” dose.
People in these groups are strongly advised to get the vaccine even though rates of H1N1 infection appear to have declined in Maine, said Patty Hamilton, director of public health nursing for the city of Bangor.
“We have plenty of vaccine,” Hamilton said. “If you come and it looks busy, turn around and come back at a later time. Don’t stand out in the cold.”
The H1N1 flu, which arrived in Maine in April, is in the midst of a “second wave,” according to public health officials, and is anticipated to hit again in March 2010.
“We really want people to get this vaccine before they lose interest,” Hamilton said Monday evening. “And the closer we get to the holidays, the harder it will be for people to get in.”
Schoolchildren 10 and under who received a first dose of H1N1 vaccine at least 14 days ago are eligible for a second dose.
Pediatric doses of injectible vaccine for children ages 6 months to 2 years with chronic health problems will not be available. Healthy children in that age group can receive the nasal spray vaccine.
Both nasal spray and injectible forms of the H1N1 vaccine will be available Wednesday. In addition, about 700 doses of seasonal vaccine will be available, as well as some doses of pneumonia vaccine. While the H1N1 vaccine is free, a seasonal flu vaccine will cost $25, and a pneumonia vaccine will cost $50. Medicare will pay for seasonal flu and pneumonia vaccines.
The vaccine clinic will run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9, at the Bangor Civic Center.