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Swine Flu Close to Home for Rep. Van Hollen

The swine flu vaccine being injected in a succession of nostrils Friday in Silver Spring came too late for Rep. Chris Van Hollen's 13-year-old son.

"He's flat on his back at home," said the Maryland Democrat as dozens of Montgomery County health officials worked their way through more than 200 early recipients.

His miserable teenager has been home sick for two days with a 102-degree fever, and received his H1N1 diagnosis Thursday. "It's a race against time," Van Hollen said. "It's already raging through the community."

Given the challenges -- scientists had to develop a safe, effective vaccine against a new flu strain -- "they got it out as soon as possible," Van Hollen said. "But that doesn't mean a lot of people don't already have it."

At an earlier congressional hearing, Van Hollen heard Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, talk about the particular dangers of H1N1 for young people.

The congressman expects that his son -- like many who get the virus -- will simply experience a serious bout of unpleasantness.

But, echoing health experts, Van Hollen warned of the potentially severe consequences for people with underlying medical conditions. That makes it all the more important for healthy people to get vaccinated to cut the virus's spread.

"I encourage people to get it right away," he said.

Local health departments are scheduling clinics for priority populations in coming days and weeks, and local doctors, hospitals and pharmacies also will be administering the vaccine. Click here for information across Maryland, here for Montgomery County and here for Prince George's County.

By Michael Laris  |  October 9, 2009; 3:25 PM ET
Categories:  Health Care , Michael Laris , Montgomery County  
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