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Orange County

Flu Shots' Arrival Is on Time This Season

Health: The elderly and people with chronic illnesses can receive free vaccinations at county clinics. Others pay $15.

November 06, 2001|DAVID HALDANE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Orange County residents at high risk for complications from the flu can get free vaccinations from the county beginning this week.

And unlike last year, when supplies were slow to arrive at clinics, this year's is ample, health care officials said.

The free vaccination effort began Monday.

"They are for anyone 60 and older or people with chronic health conditions that put them at risk for complications from the disease of flu," said Mary Wright, immunization project coordinator for the county's Health Care Agency, which is offering the free shots at four walk-in clinics.

Among the conditions qualifying people for the free shots, she said, are respiratory problems, kidney disease, diabetes, heart problems, severe anemia or "anything that suppresses the immune system.

"People under 60 will be screened by nurses," Wright said. "They needn't bring medical documentation, but they will be asked questions to verify their conditions."

Wright said the shots will also be offered at more than 50 one-day clinics throughout the county.

Unlike last year when low supplies of flu vaccine delayed opening of the clinics until early December, she said, this year's supply is ample despite the fact that a new state distribution plan has reduced Orange County's portion by about 10,000 doses.

"It shouldn't cause a problem," Wright said. "I think we'll be able to stretch what we have."

Ordinarily the county's distribution of its flu vaccine--which this year amounts to about 70,000 doses--is completed shortly after Thanksgiving, she said. Flu season historically arrives in California at the end of December and lingers through April. "November is a good time to get the vaccine," Wright said.

Those who do not qualify for the free vaccines, she said, can generally get them at private clinics for about $15 a dose. People interested in locating clinics in their area should call (888) 436-3339 or visit http://www.findaflushot.com.

--- UNPUBLISHED NOTE --- The photo caption has been edited to reflect a correction to the original published text. The woman receiving the shot is Barbara Peck; Lucille Murray is giving the shot. --- END NOTE ---

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