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Flu Shot Clinic Numbers Dwindle
Despite lingering concerns about influenza this season, people did not flock to get their shots against flu in Friday's event at the Riverbank Community Center.

With the public scared about swine flu in 2009, that year's event persuaded Stanislaus County Public Health nurses to bring 350 doses of vaccine with them and they used them all.

But staff of the local CVS pharmacy that gave this year's shots estimated they inoculated fewer then 20 customers against both swine and the regular seasonal influenza. The shots came free for senior citizens with a Medicare B card and cost $27 for all others.

Riverbank Human Services Specialist Norma Torres-Manriquez noted the county Public Health Department will be giving flu shots in Riverbank this year but not until Dec. 13, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Community Center, which is late in the flu season.

Friday's event, however, was far from a failure.

Catholic Charities program director Monica Ramos said 124 seniors signed in at the door but there were probably a score or more who skipped that formality.

Seniors came to the so-called "Koffee Klatch" in large numbers for other attractions - besides the flu shot - such as a good cup of coffee, free food under the Brown Bag Program and a chance to get information from representatives of numerous seniors' services.

Three organizations were at work in the building. White-coated volunteers of Riverbank's CVS pharmacy were giving the flu shots, the Stanislaus Elder Abuse Prevention Alliance (SEAPA) and Christian Charities were handing out coffee and information for seniors, and Salvation Army workers were distributing groceries and other government commodities on the opposite side of the room on their usual day of the first Friday of the month.

The seniors had various reasons for attending.

Richard Booker of Riverbank said he "came for the flu shot. I saw it in the newspaper and decided to get one."

But he also browsed the tables of senior services representatives, stopped at the START booth, and learned that the public transportation group runs a regular bus to a San Francisco hospital where his wife is under treatment.

He learned the round trip would cost under $25 for both of them, including the cost of bridge tolls, and welcome release from handling heavy traffic in his own vehicle.

Another senior, who declined to give his name, said he had come for the food distribution but would also consider getting a flu shot, adding he often gets food from a Modesto church, which gives away staples outside Riverbank's Fair Deal grocery store once a month.

Agencies offering information included the Area Agency on Aging, Sheriff's Team of Active Retired Seniors (STARS), California Telephone Access Program, Community Hospice, Genworth Financial, Millers Place, DMC Foundation, Howard Training Center, Housing Authority of Stanislaus County and CareMore.

The koffee klatch events are hosted periodically for the local seniors and those involved in caring for them.