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Hundreds of Washington Countians take advantage of flu clinic

October 03, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Hagerstown resident Talita Rodriguez didn't even have to leave her car to receive a flu shot Friday afternoon at North Hagerstown High School.

The nurses came to her.

"I think it's wonderful," Rodriguez said. "I've never seen anything like it before. It's a great idea to help the handicapped and the elderly."

Rodriguez was among several hundred Washington County residents who took advantage of the Washington County Health Department's Flu Clinic on Friday afternoon.

Rod MacRae, health department spokesman, said officials set up the clinics at seven high schools across the county so residents who wanted the shot would have easy access. If the participants didn't have Medicare to cover the cost, they simply paid the $20 fee.

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MacRae said he wasn't certain how many doses were available Friday, but he estimated that the health department would administer about 4,800 shots - about the same amount as last year. The program was designed to simulate a pandemic flu outbreak to determine how long it would take to administer as many shots as possible, he said.

Although the final numbers for the seven flu clinics probably won't be known until Monday, about 320 people were inoculated in 90 minutes at North Hagerstown High School, said Lisa Mentzer, the school's nurse.

John Ramacciotti and his wife, Kathy, praised the flu clinic as they waited in line to receive their shots at South Hagerstown High School. In the 20 years they have been participating in the program, John said neither he nor Kathy has contracted the flu.

"We fully support (the clinic)," he said.

Bill Renner of Funkstown also lauded the clinic.

"It's excellent," Renner said as he waited in line with his wife, Peggy, and daughter, Amy. "They do a good job. They're well-organized."

Dr. Ron Keyser of the Washington County Health Department said he believed that Friday's nice weather could have led to the large turnout at the flu clinics. The health department was lucky to receive the vaccine early this year so people could be vaccinated before the flu season begins next month, he said.

Because up to 40,000 people die from the flu each year in the United States and enough vaccine isn't available for everyone, Keyser said, it is important that the most vulnerable - people between 6 months and 18 years of age and older people - receive vaccinations.

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