Portsmouth hosts free flu vaccine clinic

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PORTSMOUTH — Putting aside the wailing child here and there, the town’s free flu vaccination clinic Monday night was hailed as a success by the state health workers and local first responders who made it happen.

The clinic, which ran from 5-8 p.m. in Portsmouth High School’s old gym, had another purpose besides offering free vaccines for the season flu, according to Christopher McGrath of the R.I. Department of Health’s Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response. It was also part of the health department’s request to have first responders test their response to some sort of pandemic emergency.

“It’s kind of a double benefit. They get to give vaccines out to the community at no charge, and they get to test their plans for what they would do,” said Mr. McGrath.

The health department has scheduled several free vaccination clinics in our area in response to an increase in cases of seasonal flu. “Right now there’s a big push from us in the department because flu has been very widespread,” said Mr. McGrath. “We hope that everybody who does not have a flu shot comes out tonight.”

And not just season flu, he said.

“This is for seasonal flu … and for the H1N1,” he said, referring to the influenza A virus that was the most common cause of flu in 2009. “We are seeing an increase in H1N1 in all hospitalizations.”

Added Fire Department Capt. Steven Lynch, who was in charge of Portsmouth’s point of distribution (POD), “We’re trying to extend coverage to people because in the neighboring states they’ve had issues — a lot of increases in hospitalizations.”

This was the first POD held in Portsmouth this year, said Capt. Lynch, noting that a “much larger one” was held a few years back for H1N1 in the school’s new gym.

Health workers were also offering the “Tdap” (to fight tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) and pneumococcal (to fight pneumonia) vaccines.

“We had 80 flu vaccinations, 14 Tdap and eight pneumococcal,” said Capt. Lynch, adding that Mr. McGrath indicated that was an appropriate amount for the area.

Other upcoming clinics

The health department has several other vaccination clinics scheduled in the East Bay. There is no charge for a flu shot at these community clinics, and people are not required to have health insurance. However, those with insurance are asked to bring their insurance cards.

Although some clinics will be held in schools, they are open to everyone and not just the students of these schools and the people who live in these communities.

Additional information can be found at www.health.ri.gov/find/vaccinations.

Here are some upcoming flu vaccination clinics in our area:

Warren

Where: Kickemuit Village Senior Housing, 20 Libby Lane

When: 5-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 14

Bristol

Where: Mt. Hope High School, 199 Chestnut St.

When: 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 15

Tiverton

Where: Tiverton Fire Station No. 2, 85 Main Road

When: 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 15

East Providence

Where: East Providence Senior Center, 610 Waterman Ave.

When: 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 22

Flu vaccine

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