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Hundreds stand in line for H1N1 vaccine

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Local,Melanie Ciarrone

Hundreds of people swarmed to the Montgomery County health center in Silver Spring on Wednesday morning for free intranasal and injectable swine flu vaccinations.

Lines stretched out the front door of the Dennis Avenue Health Center and around the building, snaking across the clinic's packed parking lot as people waited for a vaccine during a the vaccination clinic, scheduled to run from 9 a.m. until noon.

Priority for the injectable form of the vaccine was being given to pregnant women, those with chronic health problems, health care workers and caregivers of children under 6 months.

A health official estimated that about 400 people had come through for a vaccine by 11 a.m., with 400 to 500 more people in line. The clinic, she said, which had just received the injectable form of the vaccine on Tuesday, was encouraging those who are not high risk not to wait around.

"We're going to have plenty of vaccine and anybody who wants a vaccine is eventually going to be able to get it," said Mary Anderson, public information officer for Montgomery County Health and Human Services.

Diane and Bob Leffler are both considered at high risk for the H1N1 virus. She has fibromyalgia and he has asthma. Both of them are usually vaccinated during flu season, but this year they are especially concerned. They planned to wait at the health center Wednesday despite the length of the lines as noon approached.

"They told us they'd serve anyone in line at 12," Diane said.

Katie Kivighan, who works at Suburban Hospital and the University of Maryland Medical Center, faced a wait of up to two-and-a-half hours.

"I'm a student nurse, so I'm doing it for myself and my patients," the 30-year-old said.

Anderson said anyone who wants to be vaccinated against the swine flu can go online to montgomerycountymd.gov/h1n1flu to see a list of places where the free vaccine would be available.

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