250 vaccinated against H1N1 at Washington Co. Health Dept.

December 04, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- A steady flow of people moved through the Washington County Health Department to receive the H1N1 vaccine during a daylong clinic Friday.

Officials said people began lining up at about 6:30 a.m. to receive one of 2,000 free doses that were available. The clinic began at 8 a.m. and lasted until 4 p.m.

About 250 people received the vaccine, according to Health Department spokesman Rod MacRae. He said the health department has administered about 6,215 H1N1 vaccines this year.

He said incidents of the H1N1 virus seem to be tapering off.

"The flu typically comes in waves," MacRae said. "We may have peaked the first wave, but there may be a lull until the second wave comes along."


The vaccine was given Friday to people in one of five high-risk categories:

o Pregnant women

o People who live with or care for children younger than 6 months old

o Health care and emergency medical service personnel

o Those between the ages of 6 months and 24 years

o People from 25 to 65 whose chances of catching the flu are elevated because they have chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems

The health department was ordered by the state to give the vaccine to people in the high-risk category before the rest of the public, MacRae said. About half of Washington County's population, or roughly 74,000 people, is considered high risk, he said.

"We actually had to limit access to some people," MacRae said. "Our hope is it soon will be open to the general public."

People who attended the clinic didn't have to wait long to get the vaccine. After they filled out paperwork, they were ushered into small examination rooms to receive their shots.

Celia Diaz of Hagerstown said she was taken to receive her shot shortly after she arrived Friday morning.

Diaz said she is prone to catching the flu ever she was diagnosed with asthma a few years ago.

"Every time I get a cold, I get it very bad," Diaz said. "I get very sick."

Hagerstown resident Argelia Bran said she wanted to be vaccinated because she is 14 weeks pregnant.

"The clinic is great," she said. "I don't have to pay for it."

Another woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said she and her two children were getting vaccinated not only for their own protection, but to prevent a foster baby she just welcomed into her family from getting sick.

Cases of H1N1 in Maryland

According to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, there have been 35 deaths and 915 hospitalizations associated with H1N1 flu in Maryland from May 1 to Nov. 30.

Five of those deaths were in the Western region, which includes Washington County.

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