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Hundreds Get Flu Vaccine at US Temple

Hundreds of families received free H1N1 vaccines at a Buddhist temple in Maryland on Sunday, hoping to strengthen their immune response to the disease.

“This is a peril,” a local resident, Sara, said of the virus, sometimes called swine flu, which has been labeled a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

“We have no immunity to this virus at all, and I don’t want it,” said Sara, who joined others at the Cambodian Buddhist Temple in Silver Spring. “I definitely need a vaccine.”

The disease killed more than 1,400 Americans between Aug. 30 and Dec. 5, and more than 200 countries had reported the disease by then, according to statistics at the University of Southern California.

The US Centers for Disease Control recommends vaccines along with hygienic practices to prevent person-to-person spread of the virus.

Wu Samnang, an official at the Montgomery Country Health Department, said the agency had 500 doses available to the general public, “and to everyone who wants it.”

“The typical season for influenza is the winter months, and the best way to prevent illness is to be vaccinated,” she said. “There is ample vaccine available, and I urge all residents to get vaccinated.”

Tun Sovann, president of the Cambodian Buddhist Society, requested the vaccine for members of the temple, such as monks and nuns.

The vaccine distribution began at 10 am, “but some folks braved the cold weather in line at 9 am before the doors opened.”

Amy Cole, a nurse at the Shady Grove Hospital, said she had received word through her hospital the distribution was looking for volunteers.

“I think it is a great thing, and I’m willing to come out and help,” she said.

Mary Bethel, a nurse from Washington Adventist Hospital, said the priority vaccines had already been given out, allowing for shots for the general public.