It was all about the shots Thursday morning as Montgomery County commissioners posed for the cameras while getting their influenza vaccinations during a public meeting.
Public health officials have ramped up their flu-shot campaigns in recent years, seeking to boost community immunity to a virus that kills tens of thousands each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Montgomery County took a decidedly public, and humorous, tack in announcing its flu-shot clinics this year, having Commissioner Valerie Arkoosh - a doctor - administer the injections to her fellow board members.
"I always imagined that the first time a shot was fired in this room, it would not be by Val," said Commissioner Josh Shapiro. He grimaced at the cold alcohol swab but didn't flinch as the needle went in - and cameras flashed.
Commissioner Bruce Castor said this was his first flu shot. Ever. Including the eight years he spent as a commissioner, in a county that offered free shots to residents, and set up clinics in the lobby of the county headquarters.
"I always thought that those who shook a thousand hands a day must have developed immunity to every disease known to man," said Castor.
"You know what that's called? Herd immunity," Arkoosh said.
Castor and Shapiro spent the rest of the day with Sesame Street Band-Aids under their suits.
While Castor made it through those years without getting ill, pediatrician Bonnie Offit warned that the flu can strike even healthy people, and the results can be severe, even fatal.
Offit told of a family friend whose 11-year-old son died of influenza in February 2005.
Adam Spandorfer "was a completely healthy boy," said Offit, "and started like everybody, with fever, sore throat, congestion. . . . Within days he was on full life support, and then he died."
After that, Offit said, she worked with the county Health Department to get flu vaccines into schools and other sites.
"The more people we can get vaccinated, the more the circle of protection grows," said Offit.
The county now offers several free, walk-in flu shot clinics throughout the fall and winter for all county residents, with or without insurance.
Influenza vaccines are recommended for everyone over 6 months of age and are most effective when administered early, according to the CDC.
No appointments are required for the following clinics, but patients who have insurance should bring their ID cards:
Tuesday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Norristown Public Library, 1001 Powell Street.
Oct. 10, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at College Hall of Montgomery County Community College, 340 DeKalb Pike in Blue Bell. Park in Lot No. 1, off Morris Road.
Oct. 17, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Abington Junior High School, 2056 Susquehanna Road.
Oct. 22, 3:30-6:30 p.m. at Hope Community Church, 2732 N. Charlotte St., Gilbertsville.
Oct. 27, 3:30-6:30 p.m. at Upper Merion Township Building, 175 W. Valley Forge Road, King of Prussia.
Nov. 7, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Cheltenham High School, 500 Rices Mill Road. Park in main lot, off Rices Mill Road.
Additional clinics are planned for those age 65 and older. To register, call 1-866-CALL-MLH.
Oct. 13, 6-8 p.m. at Merion Fire Company of Ardmore, 35 Greenfield Ave.
Oct. 21, 9-11:30 a.m. at PALM Senior Center of Ardmore, 117 Ardmore Ave.
Nov. 2, 9:30-11:30 a.m. at Upper Merion Senior Center, 650 S. Henderson Road, King of Prussia.