Columbia County residents are rolling up their sleeves in record numbers, prompting the Columbia County Health Department to schedule another flu shot clinic for Nov. 13.
The fifth clinic this school year will be Nov. 13 at Lakeside Middle School from 2 to 6 p.m.
School nursing supervisor Julie Howard said officials have been overwhelmed at the response of the clinics so far. The shot clinic at Greenbrier Middle School earlier this month drew 115 people. At Evans Middle School, there were 254; at Grovetown Middle School, 114 and at Lakeside Middle last week, there were 168.
"We saw a lot of teenagers and whole families coming in, some seniors and a lot of teachers," Howard said.
She said she was particularly surprised by the turnout at Evans Middle, where officials had expected 100 people but more than twice as many showed up. They had to send a runner to the health department to fetch more vaccine, Howard said.
"The health department has done more doing this than just doing the flu shots themselves. Hopefully, it will make a difference," Howard said.
Health and school officials scheduled the shot clinics to prevent another flu outbreak like the one the county experienced last school year.
The first confirmed cases of influenza B in the state at the beginning of this year came from Columbia County. The illness first appeared in local middle schools in mid-January before spreading throughout the system and pushing absentee rates at some schools to 26 percent.
A Greenbrier High School, a 10th-grade girl, who already had health problems, died in March from flu complications.
The flu shots are being offered to school system employees, pupils and parents at a cost of $15. Walk-ins are welcome, but participants are asked to call the school at 855-6900 so the health department will know how much vaccine to bring. Those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
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