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The flu strikes hard in Harford

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The unusually active flu season continues at full tilt in Harford County, with many of those who haven't either been sick or vaccinated against the illness scrambling to get inoculated.

More than 700 people got vaccinated at flu clinics in Harford County over the weekend. Many of them are related to someone or know someone who has been sick with the flu in recent weeks. This flu season has been worse in Harford County and the Maryland region than the past few years, health officials say.

The Harford County Health Department reported giving vaccinations to more than 500 adults and children on Friday. Vaccinations will continue at the health department's facility in Woodbridge Center while supplies last, Bill Wiseman, a health department spokesman, said. Those interested can call 410-612-1774 to make arrangements.

The clinic held by Upper Chesapeake Health at Harford Mall, meanwhile, drew 245 people for vaccinations, Vickie Ensor Bands, director of community outreach for Upper Chesapeake, reported. The hospital ran out of its supply of vaccines.

"It went very well," she said, noting the numbers were up from 150 the previous week.

"There really weren't long lines. Nobody waited more than probably 10 or 15 minutes," she said. "People were very appreciative that we were there."

She was surprised that about a third of those waiting to be vaccinated were children, noting she would have thought children would have already been vaccinated.

There also were not that many elderly residents coming for vaccinations, probably because they had already received their flu shots, she said.

One of the workers at the Friday clinic said there had been a steady stream of people during the first portion of the four-hour clinic, which was held in the Harford County Council's chambers. Both FluMist and flu shots were available.

Upper Chesapeake Health's clinic at Harford Mall was Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m inside near the center of the Harford Mall.

Both FluMist and flu shots were available in limited quantities at no charge to those vaccinated. Children, six months old and older, and adults can be vaccinated.

Visitation restrictions remain place at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air and Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace last week and will remain in place until the flu crisis has eased.

Colleen Clay, director of health care, epidemiology and infection control at Upper Chesapeake, said she has seen no change in patient volume at the hospitals from the previous week.

Flu cases have remained steady around the state.

Clay said there have been no negative impacts and no indication of an upward trend in terms of staff members being sick.

"Our flu plan is working effectively," she reported.

Wiseman, at the Health Department, said the availability of TamiFlu is "a little spotty," but is generally still available around town.

He said some sites had plentiful supplies while others were expecting what they though might be their last supply.

"The flu is steady and continued to be steady over the past four months," he said.

Aegis staff member Matt Button contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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