Area residents flock to flu vaccination clinic
Two more clinics slated for this week
Community Health Nurse Patti Murphy prepares a flu shot for Billy Snoots on Monday at the Washington County Health Department. (By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer / January 14, 2013)
Considering the rapid spread of influenza regionally and nationally over the past few months, Snoots said he wasn’t taking any chances again this year, especially since he has a neighbor who has fallen ill with the flu recently.
“I’ve put it off for a good while, so finally I said with the way things are happening, and it’s happening so much, I figured I’d just go ahead and get one,” said the 70-year-old from Hagerstown.
Snoots and dozens of other county residents took advantage of a flu vaccination clinic at the Washington County Health Department on Monday afternoon.
Monday’s clinic, held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., was the first of three this week, according to Rod MacRae, public information officer for the health department.
The others will take place Wednesday, Jan. 16, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Friday, Jan. 18, from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., both at the health department office at 1302 Pennsylvania Ave.
“It’s the best single thing you can do to protect yourself from the flu,” MacRae said, noting that about 75 people had gotten shots by about 2:30 p.m. Monday. “Obviously, practicing good hygiene, hand-washing ... is beneficial as well, but the shot is your best bet.”
As of Jan. 11, about 373 cases of the flu had been reported to the health department since flu season began around October, MacRae said last week.
“We’ve had a lot of cases reported,” he said. “The vast majority of cases are not formally reported. But it’s hitting us pretty well. It’s been a fairly early peak to the season so far, and we’re not really sure where it’s going to go from here.”
Ruth Hardman of Hagerstown, who said she’s a recently retired member of the custodial staff for Washington County Public Schools, also took advantage of the clinic Monday. She said the outbreak of the flu lately was what prompted her visit as well.
“I haven’t had (a shot) in about two years,” she said. “... I haven’t had the flu in probably five or six years, but I always got the shots up until about two years ago because I used to get a touch of it when I’d get the shots but I didn’t get it real bad.”
MacRae urged anyone in the community to get a vaccination “without question.” Flu shots are widely available right now, he said.
The health department had a supply of about 900 doses of the vaccine as of last Thursday, MacRae said.
“They’re offered at pharmacies. They’re offered at supermarkets,” he added. “So they’re available in any number of different venues — it’s not just the health department.”
MacRae also said people need to “exercise a degree of civic awareness” if they get the flu.
“Stay home. Don’t go to work until the symptoms have passed,” he said. “I know that’s hard for a lot of people, but it’s just a way of protecting your friends, neighbors and family from what you have.”
For flu shots from the health department, Medicare is accepted for adults, but no other insurance will be billed. A donation of $20 is appreciated, according to the health department website.
An administration fee is charged for child flu vaccines, and some children may require an additional dose of the vaccine in four weeks, the website states.