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Finlandia, Gogebic hold 11th mass flu shot clinic

HANCOCK – Marilyn Ollanketo was attending the mass flu immunization clinic at the Hancock Central High School gym for the 11th time Saturday because she finds it convenient and quick.

Ollanketo, who is from Hancock, said she appreciates that the clinics are available for something that needs to be done.

“I hate needles, but I love this,” she said.

Before she started using the mass immunization clinics, Ollanketo said she used to get her flu shots at her doctor’s office or at a pharmacy.

The shots are given by nursing students from Finlandia University and Gogebic Community College, and she trusts them because she used to teach at Finlandia.

“They’re very good,” she said of the nursing students.

The mass immunization clinic began in 2006 as a way to coordinate emergency services during a crisis, and to determine how best to bring medical care to a large number of people quickly.

Ray Sharp, Western Upper Peninsula Health Department community planning and preparedness manager, said now the mass immunization clinics are a partnership of the health department, UP Health Systems-Portage and Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital.

Sharp said at the Hancock clinic a crowd began gathering at 8:45 a.m., 15 minutes before the doors opened.

“It’s been steady attendance,” he said.

Those coming to the Hancock clinic were mostly older people, Sharp said, but some families with children showed up.

Over the last few years, Sharp said attendance has dropped off at the clinics, which also take place in Baraga and Onotonagon. The reasons for that are because with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act people can use their insurance to get shots, and more likely because shots are now available at many pharmacies.

“That’s a convenience for people,” he said.

The shots cost $30 this year. People could pay with cash, check or insurance. Most children could get a shot for free or with a $15 administration fee, depending on the family’s financial situation.

Last year, Sharp said 484 people attended to Hancock clinic, and this year 387 took part.

One of those who attended the clinic this year was Tom Vichich of Hancock, who said he’s been coming to them for a simple reason.

“It’s close and convenient,” he said.

The next mass immunization clinics are from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday 1 at Baraga County Memorial Hospital, and from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Oct. 15 at the Ontonagon schools. Pre-registration is not needed.