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Hundreds attend county flu clinic

November 14, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - His brown eyebrows furrowing beneath his bald head, one man turned away as the needle jabbed his arm.

At the biggest of Washington County Health Department's first flu clinics of the year, hundreds of people turned out Monday to roll up their sleeves.

According to public information officer Mary McPherson, 1,500 people made appointments to get the influenza vaccines at Hagerstown Elks Lodge No. 378, while 600 people scheduled shots at Western Maryland Hospital Center and Community Rescue Service.

More clinics will be publicized once the department gets more doses of the vaccine, McPherson said.

Holding her left arm stiffly after getting the shot, Kendra Ganoe, 38, of Boonsboro, said she has gotten vaccines since suffering bouts with a variety of respiratory and sinus illnesses in 1994.

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"I got the flu that I know of four times. I just kept getting it over and over and over," Ganoe said.

Since she began getting the vaccines in 1995, Ganoe said, she has been much healthier.

"It was pretty bad that year," she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu kills 36,000 people and causes more than 200,000 hospitalizations a year in the United States. The season usually lasts from November to April.

The country's four flu vaccine manufacturers are projecting that 110 million to 115 million doses of vaccine will be available this year, the most ever, the CDC said.

Small children, people ages 50 and older, and people with chronic medical conditions are among the priority groups for vaccination, according to the CDC.

Three thousand people got shots at the Elks lodge last year, McPherson said. McPherson said she does not anticipate any shortages of vaccine.

The health department has ordered 8,000 flu vaccines, McPherson said.

Sis Conley, 58, of Hagerstown, said after getting the shot her arm was sore, and she admitted she does not like needles. Even so, she said, her doctor has recommended the vaccine over the chance of getting the flu.

"I think I had it one time - it's been years back. Actually, my husband and I both had it ... we couldn't help each other," Conley said.

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