BANGOR, Maine — Mainers headed to Bangor this week for the Eastern Maine high school basketball tournament will find plenty of opportunities to get a free vaccine against the H1N1 flu and the regular seasonal flu. Clinics throughout the area will offer free vaccines to the general public as well. No appointment is necessary.
Perhaps most convenient for tournament-goers is today’s free clinic at Hollywood Slots, just across Main Street from the Bangor Auditorium, where the games are played. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Health clinics at Wal-Mart stores in Brewer and Bangor also will provide free flu vaccines this week. Wal-Mart clinic hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
In addition, there will be a free H1N1 vaccine clinic inside the Bangor Mall near the entrance to Macy’s. The hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Penobscot Community Health Care on Union Street also will administer flu vaccines this week at no charge.
“We figured we had a lot of people coming to town for the tournament,” said Patty Hamilton of the Bangor Department of Health and Community Services. “We decided to do one more sweep to try and get everyone who hasn’t yet had an opportunity to get the H1N1 vaccine.”
Hamilton said the city initially hoped to hold a flu clinic inside the auditorium complex itself but ran into difficulties coordinating with the tournament activities.
H1N1 vaccine supplies were scarce earlier this winter when demand was high and the new swine flu was spreading quickly among schoolchildren and other segments of the population.
Now that the outbreak has slowed and public fear has subsided, Hamilton said, the state is flush with vaccine. People still are getting sick, she said, and many public health officials expect a resurgence of H1N1 in the spring, possibly in a more virulent form.
Public health officials recommend that all Americans over the age of 6 months get vaccinated against the H1N1 flu. Seasonal flu vaccine also is broadly recommended.