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Flu clinics will need volunteers

People needed to administer vaccine

Dean Cook (click for larger version)
October 25, 2009
SOUTHBRIDGE — With seasonal flu and H1N1 already popping up in the area, local health officials are seeking volunteers to help run vaccination clinics. But those who respond need to meet certain requirements.

"If I can't get volunteers, the contract says I can bring in per-diem nurses," but that would cost the towns more, said Harrington Hospital nurse Joan Dusoe, the regional health agent for the state Department of Public Health.

On Thursday, Dusoe and 11 volunteers (three of them nurses) ran the first area flu clinic at Sturbridge Senior Center, vaccinating 500 people in three hours. Many other such clinics are already planned for seasonal flu since that vaccine has arrived in large quantities, but H1N1 clinics are currently on hold because H1N1 vaccine has been delayed.

Board of Health member Dean Cook said the delay comes from the fact scientists have found the virus "doesn't grow as fast in the eggs" they use to create the vaccine. For that reason, the tiered priority structure for H1N1, and the overall population, Dusoe said, "We'll probably be doing these clinics until March or April."

"This really is a joint effort," she said. "But it's really not going to be run differently than we do seasonal flu" other than requiring more outreach.

See Monday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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