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Hundreds turn out for swine flu vaccine clinic in Norwin

| Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009

Evelina Mignogna burst into tears as nurse Joe Donahue squirted flu vaccine into her nose.

"She always does this," said her mother, Dawn, 30, comforting the 5-year-old as she grasped a black-and-white stuffed dog and scowled.

The Mignognas were among several hundred people who received the H1N1 flu vaccine at Norwin Middle School on Monday. It was the first vaccination clinic run by the state Department of Health in Westmoreland County.

"At 8:30 this morning, we probably had 150 or 200 people lined up down the sidewalk," said John Boylan, superintendent of the Norwin School District.

By noon, the line was gone, but families continued to trickle in. Boylan said that he expected things would get busier in the afternoon, once the high school and middle school let out.

Boylan said about 750 of the 2,500 doses they had received would be given yesterday to people who had pre-registered with the district. Another flu vaccination clinic will be conducted in the middle school on Wednesday. It will be open to anyone.

"It's a public service," Boylan said.

Carla Capozzi, an orthodontist in Penn Township, said that she and her family normally did not bother with seasonal flu vaccines, but she was anxious to get them vaccinated against H1N1.

"This is something that scares me a little bit more, because it's targeting kids," she said.

Capozzi brought her two children to get vaccinated before school, then stuck around to help officials manage the clinic.

So far, things were going smoothly, she said. "I think Wednesday is going to be busier."

The nasal vaccine, which is free, will be given to anyone who wants it between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Wednesday in the middle school auditorium. Minors must be accompanied by an adult.

The nasal spray, which contains live but weakened virus, is the only form of vaccination available at Norwin. It is not safe for children under 2, adults over 50, pregnant women or people with lung, heart or kidney problems, weakened immune systems or diabetes. People who have an allergy to chicken eggs, who are taking aspirin or who have a cold or the flu should not get the vaccine.

Boylan asked that anyone wishing to be vaccinated on Wednesday print out and complete a consent form before arriving at the school. The form can be found at the district's Web site -- norwinsd.org .

"That will be a big help," he said.

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