Some communities prepare for, others ditch swine flu vaccination clinics

Torrance is gearing up for its first swine flu vaccination clinic next month. That's the next H1N1 clinic in the South Bay. Turnout at earlier ones in the South Bay has been enormous. That's convinced other cities to postpone their clinics - or skip them altogether.

The city of Torrance and other agencies will use the clinic at Wilson Park as a bioterrorism exercise. The idea is to practice inoculating large numbers of people in a short amount of time. The clinic is only open to people who are high-risk groups, including children and young adults, pregnant women, and people with chronic health problems.

The Beach Cities Health District in Redondo Beach was supposed to hold its second H1N1 flu clinic this Saturday. But that won't happen now.

The district's CEO, Susan Burden, says the place where they planned to hold the clinics is just too small. They were overwhelmed when thousands showed up for a similar clinic last month.

"I started getting e-mails at about 5:30 that morning from neighbors about people who had camped out in the neighborhood to get in line that morning," says Burden. "And people came [from] as far away as Santa Barbara, San Diego."

They ended up with two lines of cars, each about two miles long. It was a traffic nightmare – and the Beach Cities Health District won't repeat it. It'll let Los Angeles County health officials find a better location.

Nearby Lomita also postponed two swine flu clinics after seeing what happened with the crowd in Redondo.

So what if you live in the South Bay and you're in a swine flu high-risk group? What do you? Burden says your immune system doesn't just rely on vaccines.

"People need to equally look at how they're living right now in terms of their sleep, their nutrition, their exercise, their rest. All these things are going to build up immunity, so there's a lot of things you can do for yourself, whether you end up getting the vaccination or not. That's important. That option is kind of left out of the equation," says Burden.

And of course, health officials say one of the most important flu prevention steps is one of the easiest: wash your hands with soap and water, religiously.

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