A clinic at O'Hare International Airport run by the University of Illinois at Chicago began offering H1N1 flu vaccines in nasal mist form this week. City officials say the clinic also hopes to receive arm-shot vaccines this week and plans to open kiosks to administer the mist form of 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 Aviation.
City officials said the UIC clinic at O'Hare now has several hundred doses of the nasal mist, which it is offering in Terminal 2 to qualified individuals. They would not specify how many more doses of the hard-to-find vaccine the clinic had ordered or how many were expected this week.
"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 clinic will be giving inoculations only to ticketed-passengers and airport employees who fall into the federally defined at-risk categories.
That includes health care workers, pregnant women, individuals between ages 6 months and 24, caregivers of children under 6 months and people ages 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 plans 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 said.
The clinic and its kiosks plan to make the vaccine available from about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Pride said. The H1N1 mist costs $25 at O'Hare. The clinic also offers seasonal flu shots for $35.