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Dec 25, 2009 11:32 AM by Ariel Wesler

H1N1 flu clinics open to everyone

It's the season of sharing -- but Santa Barbara County health officials want to make sure you're *not sharing the H1N1 flu. They recently opened all vaccination clinics to everyone in the county.

'Tis the season to get vaccinated and Santa Barbara County health officials are encouraging everyone to protect themselves.

"We saw a peak with H1N1 in the October-November months. We're still H1N1 and we don't want people to get lax," said Nancy Rosenberg with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.

They recently opened up their countywide H1N1 clinics to the general public.

"I understand that with this particular flu it could be anytime," said George Drake of Santa Maria.

The clinic offers two ways to get vaccinated: a traditional shot or nasal mist, which you qualify for if you're between the ages of 2 and 49.

Health officials say we're not out of the woods yet. The height of flu season is typically between January and March and they're encouraging anyone and everyone to get vaccinated.

So far, hundreds have turned out.

"We're seeing around 200-250 at a clinic. . .we have plenty of vaccine and we're still getting some more coming from the state," Rosenberg said.

Since June, county health officials say 56 people have been hospitalized with H1N1 and six have died.

"I've gotten the regular flu shot for years and I swear by it," said Elizabeth Baycroft of Santa Maria.

She expects the H1N1 vaccine to be equally effective.

"We're going to Columbia in a few weeks and we know it's going to be stopping in different places, airports, airplanes," Baycroft said.

Especially this time of year, it's one way to help spread more joy and fewer germs.

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department will be holding weekly H1N1 vaccination clinics throughout the county.

Starting next week, three clinics will be held in Santa Maria.

They're Wednesdays from 1:30pm to 4:30pm and Fridays from 8:30am to 11:30am and 1:30pm to 4:30pm at the county health building.

For more information, visit www.sbcfluinfo.org or call 1-888-722-6358.

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