Families line up for swine flu shots
Health clinics open Saturday to hundreds who want vaccination

LAWRENCEVILLE - Hundreds of people visited Gwinnett County health clinics Saturday to get vaccinated against the swine flu.

Families lined up Saturday morning at the East Metro Health District clinics in Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale counties for the nasal spray that would vaccinate them against the novel H1N1 influenza. After the clinics opened, people continued to trickle in, but the clinics were not overwhelmed with patients.

"In the past hour, we've comfortably seen about 100 to 120 people (at the Lawrenceville clinic)," East Metro Health District spokeswoman Suleima Sulgado said about 10 a.m.

Snellville resident Yolanda Craig heard on the news that the clinics would be open.

"We decided to get down here early," she said. "I expected the crowds to be a lot bigger."

At first, Craig was hesitant to get her daughter, Shiloh High School freshman Keosha Wiggins, vaccinated. But hearing that the H1N1 vaccine was manufactured in the same way as the seasonal flu vaccine eased her fears.

"We didn't want to risk getting the flu," she said.

Kyle and Amanda Barbieri of Lawrenceville brought their daughters, 5-year-old Kylan and 3-year-old Kendall, to the Lawrenceville clinic to get vaccinated.

Amanda Barbieri, a seventh-grade teacher in Gwinnett County, has seen a lot of cases of the flu this year, including the H1N1 flu. Her daughter's preschool also had an outbreak. Her family decided to get the vaccination for "peace of mind."

"It was super easy," she said. "They took us from start to finish."

Kylan said getting vaccinated was easier than she expected.

"It was not painful," she said. "It's just a little spray."

The H1N1 flu, commonly referred to as the swine flu, was first identified in April after an outbreak in Mexico. The virus quickly spread globally, but in the summer, the World Health Organization stopped keeping count of individual cases.

Although the swine flu is transmitted the same way as seasonal flu, the seasonal flu vaccination offers no protection against the novel H1N1 virus.

The H1N1 vaccine is available Mondays through Fridays at the health clinics in Buford, Norcross, Lawrenceville, Covington and Conyers. The vaccination is free, but clients are asked to bring their Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance cards with them.

For more information, visit www.emhd.com.