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Health officials urge people to get flu shots

October 06, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN

karenh@herald-mail.com

Susan Corder missed her flu shot once in the past few decades. She won't make that mistake again, she said Wednesday.

"I was in bed a whole week. I mean, I was really sick. No more am I gonna forget the flu shot," Corder, 75, of Hagerstown, said while waiting in line for flu vaccinations about 11 a.m. at Loyalton of Hagerstown.

According to Loyalton executive director Christine M. Ogden, a team of nurses from Maxim Healthcare Services in Frederick, Md., delivered about 230 doses of flu vaccine to community members and residents of the assisted-living facility.

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Sandy Sullivan, public health emergency planner for the Washington County Health Department, said it is "extremely important" that people in high-risk groups, including the chronically ill, elderly and pregnant women, be vaccinated against influenza.

Unlike last year, when the department limited its vaccinations to people in high-risk groups, Sullivan said no shortage of vaccine is expected this year.

According to Ogden, Loyalton's community vaccination clinic charged most people $25 for flu shots and $35 for pneumonia shots. Rescue workers paid $18 for the vaccines, she said.

The facility will offer another community clinic Oct. 19, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Ogden said.

Catherine Bass, 76, of Hagerstown, said she wouldn't miss getting the shot. Now that she's older, Bass said she's more aware of the necessity of keeping herself well.

While Bass said she is especially worried about foreign strains of the flu, such as the avian flu, she was not concerned about the shot.

"The last shot I got, I didn't even know I got it. Didn't even feel it, so whoever's doing the shooting, I hope they're in good condition," Bass said as she waited for her vaccine.

Sullivan said by phone Wednesday it is unclear what impact the vaccines might have against new strains of the flu. The shots often minimize the virus' severity in people who were vaccinated against other strains of the flu, Sullivan said.

The health department, which last year administered about 8,200 shots, will try to deliver vaccine doses to 8,000 people in one flu clinic for high-risk groups Nov. 15, Sullivan said. To prepare for a smallpox crisis or other health crisis, the one-day mass vaccination event is intended to be "kind of an emergency-preparedness exercise," Sullivan said.

The health department will schedule appointments for its Nov. 15 and Nov. 28 clinics once it has worked out the details, Sullivan said.

At Loyalton's clinic, Corder said the shot was "no problem."

She grimaced briefly as she watched nurse Sharon Hensley push the needle into her arm, but a smile quickly returned to her face.

"Hardly felt it, hardly felt it at all," Corder said.

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