HEALTH

Flu shots for free in some Montgomery County clinics

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State health officials say the season's first pediatric flu-related death has been confirmed in Maryland.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported Friday that a Baltimore-area child who died in December tested positive for influenza. Officials say the child had an underlying health condition, but gave no other details.

Only pediatric influenza-related deaths are required to be reported to the department.

More than 2,700 people visited the emergency room last week for influenza-like illnesses.

For Jonathan Frias of Burtonsville, getting a flu shot is critical and for a good reason.

"I just had a newborn on Sunday, so they're stressing it a lot more," Frias said.

With vaccinations hard to find, Frias had to drive reoughlu 30 miles to a clinic in Germantown.

"There were some closer to me, but they were all booked up," he added.
"You feel a little bit desperate."

Frias' was one of more than 200 patients vaccinated at the free clinic Friday.

Usually, Montgomery County only holds about a dozen flu vaccination clinics per year. But this year, demand is at a record high, forcing the county to add extra days.

Debra Aplan, a nurse administrator for the Montgomery County Department of Health's Immunization Program, said, "Because of the demand we saw in the county, we wanted to help and hold two more clinics."

Hundreds of slots filled up in just 72 hours, and Tuesday's clinic is already booked.

While appointments for the Jan. 22 clinic are book, walk-ins are still available.

The 2012-2013 seasonal flu vaccine includes protection against the H1N1 and the H3N2 viruses, as well as an influenza B strain. Only one vaccination is needed.

Only injectable vaccine (shots) will be available and there will not be any preservative free injectable vaccine. Injectable vaccine is available to adults and children over six months of age.


LOCATION/TIMES:

Friday, January 18, 2013
(Flu Shots Only)
9 a.m. to 12 noon
Germantown Health Center, 12900 Middlebrook Road, 2nd floor, Germantown

Tuesday, January 22, 2013
(Flu Shots Only)
2 to 5 p.m.
Dennis Avenue Health Center, 2000 Dennis Avenue, Silver Spring

County health officials encourage everyone to help prevent the spread of flu and many other contagious diseases by practicing the following good hygiene habits:

• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue; immediately discard used tissues.
• Sneeze and cough into the upper sleeve; not the hands.
• Wash hands frequently throughout the day.
• Wash hands by scrubbing together for 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
• Stay home from school and work if symptoms develop such as a fever, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, headache and body aches.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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