581 people vaccinated against H1N1 at clinic in Martinsburg

December 29, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. -- Nearly 600 people were vaccinated for H1N1 flu on Tuesday at the Berkeley County Health Department's free, walk-in clinic in the cafeteria at Martinsburg High School.

Health department administrator Bill Kearns said 581 people were vaccinated in the six-hour event in which no appointment was necessary.

Kearns hoped 1,000 people would be vaccinated Tuesday, but noted previous clinics held for students at each public school and at many of the private schools in Berkeley County pushed the total number of people vaccinated to more than 7,000.

"It's not good, but it's not bad," Kearns said of the total number of people vaccinated.

"It's typical for what you see with people with vaccines, especially when they're new," nurse supervisor Victoria Greenfield said.

Those who missed Tuesday's clinic can take advantage of a series of walk-in H1N1 vaccination clinics to be held each Friday in January at the health department's clinical service offices in Martinsburg.


The clinics will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. while supplies last, but Kearns said the health department does have the ability to order more vaccine.

"I think that a lot of the vaccines have been taken care of because we've already done all of the children in the schools," Greenfield said.

The health department also visited Blue Ridge Community and Technical College as part of an initial effort to target people younger than 25, a higher risk group for H1N1 complications.

"We haven't been turning anybody away (in the last week or two)," Kearns said.

About 60 people were in line Tuesday to be vaccinated when the clinic started about 9 a.m. and remained steady until about 10:30 a.m., Greenfield said.

Tuesday's free clinic, which doubled as a threat preparedness exercise for health department staff, was facilitated by about 30 volunteers, including members of the Eastern Panhandle Medical Reserve Corps, Kearns said. Two grants received by the health department supported both the clinic and the exercise, he said.

Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny P. Arvon II said he waited until Tuesday's clinic to get vaccinated to be sure school district employees had the opportunity to be vaccinated as well.

So far, student attendance across the school district has not been greatly affected by H1N1, but Arvon said he remains concerned about seasonal flu, which typically strikes in January and February.

Arvon and Kearns both said they were pleased with how the school district and health department partnered to vaccinate the students through scheduled campus visits this fall. Most of the schools were visited before the Thanksgiving holiday break, Arvon said.

Arvon touted the leadership of pupil services director George Michael, who became "Mr. H1N1," Arvon said.

Ed Piasecki of Martinsburg brought his 9-year-old daughter to the high school Tuesday to be vaccinated, but declined the shot for himself.

"I'm a geezer man, I'm protected," joked Piasecki, 49, about being less at risk than priority groups, which include health care workers, emergency response personnel, pregnant women and young children.

When asked how the injection into her upper arm felt, Piasecki's daughter said "it stung." The dose is less than one-fifth of a teaspoon, Kearns said.

After being vaccinated Tuesday afternoon, Orchard View Intermediate school teacher Billie Frame said she was grateful the vaccine was available.

"I'm exposed every day ... to hundreds of little noses and mouths and coughs and sneezes," Frame said, smiling.

The Herald-Mail Articles