BINGHAMTON — Marilyn Villante has been personally touched by the H1N1 flu. She has a friend who lost his daughter-in-law in California to the virus.
So, the 69-year-old woman was more than willing to drive 21 miles from Greene to Binghamton on Wednesday for the swine-flu immunization clinic at the Broome County Health Department in Binghamton.
Villante was one of more than 1,000 persons who lined up for the first community clinic offered by the department since Gov. David Paterson announced last week that the state has received enough H1N1 vaccine to make it available to everyone, not just to federally-defined target groups.
By the time the three-hour clinic ended, it had broken a record.
While final totals need to be confirmed, a preliminary count at the door indicates 1,111 people signed up for immunizations Wednesday — the most ever recorded at a clinic for HIN1 or regular seasonal flu, officials said. The previous record was 1,017 persons.
“People are coming out, knowing this can protect them,” said Diane O’Hora, a spokeswoman for the health department,
Many at Wednesday’s clinic, including Villante, would not have been eligible for an immunization prior to Paterson’s directive because they are not in a target group — such as pregnant women, young children, young adults, medical personnel and first responders.
While some children and young adults were present Wednesday, most were middle-aged.
“The average age was middle-aged, or older. There were a lot of seniors waiting to get vaccinated,” said Broome County Health Commissioner Claudia Edwards.
Health department officials were expecting a large crowd. The clinic was scheduled to begin at 4 p.m., but the department began about a half-hour early because 528 people were already in line, said Benjamin J. Krakauer, emergency preparedness coordinator for the department.
The line snaked through the health department corridors and, at one point, extended out the front door into the parking lot.
In anticipation of the demand, the department had 25 people on duty to give immunizations. At one point, they were immunizing 100 people every 10 minutes, Edwards said.