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Fewer people seek flu shots

November 29, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The number of people seeking flu shots this year is down by half when compared to last year, prompting the Washington County Health Department to add another immunization clinic for early December.

Health Officer William Christoffel said this week about 3,500 people got flu shots provided by the department this year, down from the 7,000 who got them last year. The department purchased 8,000 doses for this year.

The department has held five flu and pneumonia immunization clinics in Washington County already, and a sixth was added for Tuesday at the Elks Club Lodge 378 at 11603 Robinwood Drive from 3 to 7 p.m.

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Christoffel said he didn't know why fewer people have sought the shots this year, but he said some could have been immunized elsewhere. He also suggested that the flu season this year isn't receiving as much press as in past years or that interest in the shots is down.

"We feel that a lot of people have not availed themselves," Christoffel said.

He said the number of people receiving the shots is down across the state as well.

Most of the doses that aren't used, which Christoffel expects to be about 2,000, will be thrown out because they will expire, he said. About 1,000 can be sent back to the manufacturer.

"That's just wasted money," Christoffel said.

The health department will administer the shots, but Christoffel said people are encouraged to attend the Dec. 3 clinic.

Transportation is available for seniors 60 and older who contact the Washington County Commission on Aging at least 48 hours ahead, at 301-790-0275, ext. 131.

The flu shots are free, but the health department is asking for a donation of $8. Because Medicare can be billed for administrative costs for the shots, the department is asking those on Medicare to bring their Medicare cards to the clinic.

In addition to flu inoculations, the health department will provide pneumonia vaccinations at the clinic.

Flu shots are recommended for people older than 65, anyone suffering from a chronic health condition such as diabetes, asthma, cancer, HIV or kidney disease, and those who are pregnant, but the clinic is open to anyone 18 or older.

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