Flu shots arrive

December 09, 2000

Flu shots arrive

By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer

A little pain in the arm now was better than getting the flu later for those who flocked to North Hagerstown High School for flu shots.

About 1,500 people rolled up their sleeves Saturday and took the season's first public offering of the flu vaccine from the Washington County Health Department.

The Health Department usually holds its first flu vaccination clinic in October, but a delay in the preparation of the vaccine has pushed back vaccine availability dates nationwide.

Patricia M. Firey, a Health Department nurse and coordinator of the vaccination program, said additional clinics will probably be held within the next several weeks, but it's unclear exactly when they will be.


"It depends on vaccine availability," Firey said.

The Saturday clinic was limited to high-risk people, including those 65 or older, women in their second or third trimester of pregnancy, adults with chronic health problems and anyone with a weakened immune system.

"As the vaccine comes in we're going to open it up to everybody. We just have to prioritize early," said Firey, adding that those deemed at high risk have a tendency to get sicker when they contract the flu.

The vaccine is also recommended for health care workers because of their direct contact with potentially high-risk individuals.

"I'd much rather have a little bit of arm discomfort over the flu," said Lisa Glass, a Hagerstown Community College nursing student who had given about 50 shots by noon Saturday.

"I'm healthy and I thought I'd stay that way," said Lois Bond, 65, of Hagerstown.

The vaccine cannot give someone the flu, but it doesn't always prevent someone from catching the flu. If that happens the person is usually not as sick as someone who wasn't vaccinated, said William G. Christoffel, the county health officer.

"I get sick every now and then, and it really hits you hard when you're not vaccinated," said Frank Jones, 48, of Hagerstown.

JoAnn Byers, 66, of Hagerstown said, "I don't get sick very often. ... It could prevent me from being sick, or it won't be as bad."

Flu season peaks from mid-December through February, Firey said.

The Washington County Health Department has already given about 3,000 flu shots this year.

Beginning around the last week in November, the department provided flu shots at several senior clinics and nursing homes.

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