ELIZABETHTOWN - Hundreds of people in and around Elizabethtown have taken advantage of a highly sought-after chance to dodge the flu this winter.
The Essex County Public Health Department held a seasonal flu clinic at Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School Nov. 10, administering roughly 500 doses to community members.
"This is the biggest one we've offered so far this year," said Jessica Darney Buehler, spokeswoman for ECPH.
Participants were administered the vaccine free of charge on a first-come-first-serve basis, receiving tickets as they entered. Seasonal flu vaccines were available in both traditional and nasal forms, and special accommodations were in place for the elderly and disabled.
"We thought the best way to provide it to the community was to do this," Buehler said, noting the central location and afternoon hours.
Doors opened at 3 p.m. and dozens soon packed the school's auditorium. Some reported waiting in line for a half-hour or more to get their vaccine. The event was scheduled to last until 7 p.m.
By 5 p.m., however, both patients and doses were dwindling. Louann Jaquish was one of the last to be administered the vaccine and said her wait was no more than 10 minutes. She described her experience as "smooth, effective, and comfortable."
Buehler said administering the flu vaccine has been more difficult this year because doses have not been as readily available.
"The demand this year is larger than it has been in the past," she said, attributing it to media coverage and public concern surrounding the H1N1 strain of flu.
For those anxious to get a flu shot, Buehler noted there are other avenues for getting it, whether it be through a doctor or an outlet for retail vaccines.
"We're certainly able to provide these opportunities to people, but we do encourage them to seek care through their primary care physicians first," she said.
So far, the number of flu clinics has been limited due to limited supply of doses, but Buehler expects greater amounts of vaccine to become available in the coming weeks.
"As our vaccine supply increases, we'll be able to serve our larger communities," said Buehler.
The next scheduled clinic for H1N1 will be held at Keene Central School Nov. 17 specifically for groups targeting by the CDC, such as children and pregnant women. See the "In Brief" section for more information.
For an up-to-date schedule of upcoming vaccination clinics and other ways to get a flu vaccine, visit the ECPH Flu Central Web site at www.co.essex.ny.us/PublicHealth/FluCentral.asp.