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Both swine, seasonal flu shots recommended

September 04, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- The Washington County Health Department is encouraging people to get two separate flu vaccinations this year.

One vaccination would be for H1N1 flu, commonly known as swine flu; the other vaccination would be for seasonal flu, which surfaces every year, department spokesman Rod MacRae said.

A seasonal flu vaccine will not protect someone from H1N1 flu, he said.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it expects an H1N1 vaccine to be available in the fall.

Washington County will announce H1N1 flu clinics when the vaccine is ready, MacRae said.

The county is holding its first flu clinic of the season Sept. 19 from 9 a.m. to noon.

Seasonal flu vaccinations will be available at Boonsboro, Clear Spring, North Hagerstown and South Hagerstown high schools. Appointments are not needed.

A $20 donation will be accepted. The health department can bill Medicare, but not other insurers.

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"We would like to see everyone get vaccinated," MacRae said.

It's especially important for older people, children, people with chronic medical conditions, and caregivers to get a vaccination, he said.

On Wednesday, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley encouraged residents to get seasonal flu shots. He called it a "patriotic duty" that will help the state track H1N1 flu, according to a Washington Post story.

MacRae said people who think they won't be inconvenienced by getting the flu still should get a vaccination.

That way, they'll prevent passing the flu to others.

"It's sort of like a social contract kind of concept," he said.

It's also important to give pharmaceutical companies an incentive to keep producing large numbers of vaccines, MacRae said.

Washington County has had five confirmed cases of H1N1 flu, including one in the public school system.

Seven people have died from H1N1 flu in Maryland. None was in Washington County.

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