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1st H1N1 vaccine clinic opens in L.A.

October 23, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
L.A. County's first swine flu vaccine clinic opened Friday, giving out free vaccines to fight the H1N1 virus. Demand has been so high some camped out Thursday night in order to get in line for a vaccination.Approximately 3,300 people were vaccinated Friday at H1N1 clinics in Encino and Culver City.

Hundreds rolled up their sleeves to be the first in L.A. County to get the H1N1 flu shot.

Many people waited in line three hours in the heat Friday to get a shot. Volunteers worked as fast as they could, vaccinating approximately 300 people an hour.

Young children and pregnant women are at the top of the priority list.

For 34-year-old Mari Abrams making the decision to get the H1N1 flu shot was not an easy one. Eyewitness News first interviewed her a few months ago, early in her pregnancy. Back then she was not planning to get the shot.

"At first I was nervous," said Abrams. "I think a lot of pregnant women out there are scared to get a new vaccine."

On Friday, Abrams and her 3-year-old son were some of the first to take advantage of L.A. County's first free H1N1 vaccine clinic.

"The great thing about getting the vaccine for pregnant women is that you will pass it along to your baby because they can't get vaccinations when they are born," said expectant mother Angela Wonson.

That is why caregivers for infants are also on the list, followed by folks with underlying medical conditions.

"I have breast cancer so I have a chronic illness," said Donna Barry.

This is an opportunity Donna Barry did not want to miss. She has health insurance, but she does not want to wait.

"The only reason I am here is because the doctor's office does not have it," said Barry.

"Many people are confused, frustrated and some irate that they cannot find it," said L.A. County's Director of Public Health Jonathan Fielding. "So we are immunizing a higher percentage of people with health insurance."

The free vaccine clinics are designated for priority groups without access to medical care. So health officials are urging people with health insurance to wait for their providers to get it.

"I would ask those people, if they can, to wait and call their physicians because I don't want us to run out of the vaccine here," said Dr. Fielding. "But we will try to accommodate everyone who comes."

Two forms were handed out at the clinic. One was for the nasal version of the vaccine and the other was for the shot. For the people who opted for the nasal version, the wait time was much shorter.

The H1N1 vaccine clinics will be held throughout Los Angeles through November 8.


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