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Inova hosts flu shot clinics

Sunday - 1/13/2013, 1:04pm  ET

Thomas Warren, wtop.com

FAIRFAX, Va. - Inova Fairfax Hospital doled out free flu shots Saturday afternoon in a move to help slow the flu outbreak that has griped most of the nation.

For the last four weeks, the flu has been widespread — the most severe of the four activity levels recorded by state health officials, according to a health department report.

The clinic offered both the nasal spray and needle versions of the flu shot.

Armen Noruzi, 11, was overcome with nervousness before sitting down to get the nasal spray version, even having the following exchange with nurse Mary Sena:

Armen: "What if I sniff it up, and I get killed?" Mary: "You won't get killed, I promise you." Armen: "You promise?" Mary: "Yes."

Armen scrunched up his face, breathed in, and after a few shrieks of "Oh God, oh God," Armen survived. Afterwards he didn't care that his mom and brother, Keeon, were chuckling at his despair.

"At least I'm lucky I won't be getting the flu this winter," Armen said.

His brother Keeon, 11, took it all in stride, and said it didn't hurt at all.

"It feels like when you get that fizzy feeling when you drink a lot of soda," he said.

Sena, who serves as Inova Fairfax's flu supervisor, says the flu mist vaccine is not for everyone.

"Anybody who has asthma, or lives with anybody who is immuno-compromised, or is immuno-compromised themselves can't get it," she said.

Young children made up a majority of those getting shots Saturday. That's likely because of the extra precautions needed to ensure they are protected against the virus.

"Children under 9 years old, if they haven't had a flu shot in a prior flu season, or if they haven't had a shot in the last couple years, they'll need two this flu season," says Rachel Lynch, manager for Prevention and Self Care.

Inova Fairfax held the clinic even as it has instituted temporary visitor restrictions, because of the flu outbreak.

The Inova Health Care system has scheduled two additional clinics this month:

  • Jan. 19 at the Fair Oaks Campus
  • Jan. 26 at the Inova Fairfax campus

"If there's still a large demand at that point, and we have the supply, we'll have more," Lynch says.

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