Archive for Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lining up for swine flu shots

Community H1N1 clinic first in state

People wait in a light rain on Oct. 21, 2009, to get an H1N1 flu vaccination at Haskell Indian Nations University. It was the first H1N1 immunization clinic in Douglas County.

People wait in a light rain on Oct. 21, 2009, to get an H1N1 flu vaccination at Haskell Indian Nations University. It was the first H1N1 immunization clinic in Douglas County.

October 21, 2009, 2:10 p.m. Updated October 22, 2009, 12:00 a.m.


Douglas County H1N1 updates
Lawrence Swine Flu clinic

Following months of anticipation, the area's first H1N1 clinic proved quite popular Wednesday.

H1N1 vaccines

The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department has scheduled three H1N1 immunization clinics at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds, 2120 Harper St., for those who are considered at risk of suffering complications if they get swine flu.

The clinics will be:

• 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday.

• 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 29.

• 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 31.

The department will provide the vaccine at no cost.

Kansas University also has scheduled swine flu immunization clinics for students, staff, faculty and retirees. They will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Friday from Nov. 6 through Dec. 4, except Thanksgiving Day weekend.

The immunization clinics will move around. Here’s the schedule: Nov. 6, Mrs. E’s cafeteria in Lewis Hall; Nov. 13, Kansas Union ballroom; Nov. 20, Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center; and Dec. 4, Kansas Union ballroom.

For more information or to download a vaccine consent form, visit the health department’s Web site at

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The cries of little ones echoed throughout Haskell Indian Nations University’s Coffin Sports Complex on Wednesday afternoon.

Tears were streaming down little cheeks, and some children even tried to run from their parents as they got closer to receiving the novel H1N1 vaccination at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department’s first community immunization clinic.

It also was the first community clinic in the state for H1N1, commonly known as swine flu. The virus has caused widespread illness across the state and claimed eight lives in Kansas.

The clinic provided the first opportunity for people to get immunized, and many were eager to do so.

The line started forming at 11:30 a.m. and by the time the clinic started at 2 p.m., at least 200 people were there. The line wound its way through the lobby and outside to the main parking lot.

Anticipation, fears

Andrew Ellis, a student at Lawrence High School, was the first to receive a vaccination, and his parents Jim and Gail Ellis followed.

“It was wonderful to be able to get it,” said Gail Ellis, who has an immune deficiency. “Now I can say, ‘Yeah.’ We can go about our lives in the community and know that we are protected.”

She added, “I wasn’t scared at all. In fact, I was anticipating it.”

That wasn’t the case for many children.

Five-year-old Brooklyn Guffey, Lawrence, was kicking and screaming, “I don’t want to do it. No. No. No.”

Her sister Chandler Guffey, 8, also shed tears. But they were both smiling a few minutes after receiving their shots and ready for the ice cream that their mother, Leslie Guffey, had promised.

Leslie said she didn’t want to take any chances with the swine flu and that’s why she got her girls vaccinated.

“I have heard the reports of children who can have serious complications and that it can possibly turn fatal,” she said.

Lawrence resident Liesl Hays, who is six months pregnant, and her 8-month-old daughter Madelyne Hays each received a vaccination.

“I just recognize that we are a population that’s vulnerable to getting H1N1 and having complications, and I just felt like it was really important to get vaccinated to stay healthy this flu season,” Hays said.

Blue-eyed Madelyne, dressed in a purple shirt and brown pants, was all smiles until getting poked. Then, she turned bright red and started crying.

New experience

Carole Rehder, a retired nurse who worked for the Lawrence health department for seven years, said volunteering at the H1N1 clinic was a new experience for her.

“The difference is the age group. We are doing so many children, where our clinics in the past have been mainly older people,” she said.

That’s because children are more prone to get swine flu and more likely to suffer complications from it.

The health professionals who volunteered at the H1N1 clinic quickly found out the process was going to take more time because they were dealing with a younger population.

“You feel sorry for the child because they truly are frightened. That’s true fear,” Rehder said. “We try to make it as quick and as comfortable as we can for the child. Occasionally, it takes two or three holders, but I don’t think any of us encountered a child who didn’t get it.”

“We always win,” she said with a chuckle during a short break. “Sometimes it is sheer determination on our part. They never believe we do it because we love them, but that’s the reason.”

Priority group

The clinic was for people who most likely would suffer complications if they got swine flu.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these are pregnant women, people between 6 months and 24 years, people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months, health care and emergency services personnel, and people ages 25 through 64 who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications.

As Suzanne Lange, 64, a clinical psychologist at Haskell Health Center, stood in line with two co-workers, she described the event as a phenomenon.

“I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime,” she said. “I didn’t expect this many people.”

By the end of the clinic at 6 p.m., 1,360 doses of vaccine had been provided. The health department has 2,690 doses left and expects more to arrive next week in time for the next three community clinics at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds.

Dan Partridge, director of the health department, said he visited with people who were vaccinated and most of them thought it was well organized. Some were unhappy about standing in the occasional rain.

Others suggested separating the vaccination stations from the waiting area, so the children wouldn’t have to watch and hear the cries of their counterparts, which Partridge thought was a good idea.

Lisa Horn, health department spokeswoman, said the department plans to improve its efforts.

“We already are talking about some things we want to do differently next week like possibly getting even more vaccinators to make the process go even faster,” she said.


medworld 8 years, 7 months ago

If the goal of the health department is to vaccinate as many people in the high risk group as possible, then I need to understand why they are not utilizing the resources of our city to do so. Nearly every medical practice in this city stepped up and volunteered to be vaccination sites for H1N1. Why? Because these physicians and nurses are dedicated to helping Lawrence residents stay healthy. Doesn't it make better sense to distribute the 4000 doses throughout the city to those offices already set up to do so rather than set up a make-shift clinic in a gym? Those offices are filled with trained personnel ready to administer the vaccine. And ready to do so in a manner that is convenient to the patients that need the vaccine. Seriously, standing in line in the rain are our folks in the high risk category. People with small children, pregnant women and people with health conditions. Yes - hold clinics but let the resources of the city help. I believe that is what is in the best interest of our community.

onetime97 8 years, 7 months ago

So you would suggest that normal day-to-day care, appointments scheduled months in advances, and follow ups be re-scheduled so physicians can volunteer for four hours to allow thousands of people to trample 10 person offices near 5 parking space lots near residental streets and schools be implemented instead because a simple shot means it's more caring coming from a physicain instead of a nurse aid?

I bet residential neighborhoods, clinics and hospitals would love to loose around $1million dollars for half a day in this economy...and police have nothing better else to do on the streets that manage traffic.

imagine trying to schedule an appointment with a medical care office for just a simple shot. the H1N1 would have done did you in by the time you recieved the shot....this is a pandemic my dear medworld, not the normal year around sniffle flu....

Try to plan this event in your mind and think about how you would it it LOGISTICALLY....sometimes simple is the best...

medworld 8 years, 7 months ago

onetime97 what you don't understand is that these offices are run by professionals who understand how to do vaccination clinics. No, it is not more caring to distribute the vaccine that way - just more efficient and easier for the people who need it the most. And if you need to schedule your appointment months in advance with only 5 parking spaces to choose from - I think it is time to look for a new doctor.

lawrencechick 8 years, 7 months ago

I doubt every practice is stepping up to be vaccination sites. Thats why the pediatric clinic is not even offering them. Few offices could absorb that demand in addition to the seasonal flu vaccines. Mass immunization is the most efficient way to do it.

bakpak 8 years, 7 months ago

Medworld is right. A competent medical clinic can easily handle an increased volume of vaccination. There's no need for a high volume as it wouldn't be given out in a drive fashion. This is what's being done throughout most of the country in combination with drive clinics such as todays (but already for the last couple weeks due to delays at the Kansas state level and poor decisions and communication at the county level.)

This is also one of the worst ways to provide the vaccine to healthcare workers who are exposed daily, need to take care of the patient's who become ill, and could expose the most susceptible patients if they do become ill. Any clinic who closed today to allow their workers to get vaccinated did in fact lose quite a bit of money not to mention the patients who's appointments may have been delayed months for this to hapen

newshound25 8 years, 7 months ago

I was at the clinic today with two small children. I got there very early...though it was not fun to wait almost two hours to get vaccinated, I was impressed with the organization. But I would have to agree with medworld, why don't they let the doctor offices have the vaccine like the seasonal flu. I would even pay to not stand in line. I agree we still need to hold clinics, but to have people with serious medical conditions stand in line in the rain with a mass of people seems a bit dangerous for those folks.

I do have one question though...why didn't the health workers wear gloves? is that standard protocol for vaccine clinics? Just curious.

slurms_makenzie 8 years, 7 months ago

So people who don't have a medical home don't deserve vaccines? Or people who can't pay? The health department will give the vaccines whether you can pay or not, even if you have an outstanding balance with their clinic. Most doctor's offices will not. These clinics are fast and efficient.

morganlefay 8 years, 7 months ago

Excellent point about the gloves, hound. I was there to get the vax today, but didn't even notice that! I arrived 30 minutes early and the line was already out to the parking lot, then we had to stand in the rain for 30 minutes before we could go inside to stand in line for another hour and 15 minutes before getting the vax. You're right medworld, because the high risk groups are the last people who should be waiting in the rain. I hope I don't get sick just from that and all the people crowded together in the entrance of that building. I also thought it was poorly organized. It was their first clinic and they might not have been expecting the crowd, but some of the workers didn't even know what they were supposed to be doing. They should have been trained before now. I just hope the vax was safe and we don't get some mystery illness in a week or two.

Godot 8 years, 7 months ago

For the first time since 1976, the Federal government has taken over the distribution of a vaccine. The vaccine was commissioned by the government central command (HHS under the direction of Sebelius) and then distributed, with considerably delay, to state and local authorities for administration.

It would have been so much more effective and efficient for the pharmas to fulfill orders from the medical professionals, and deliver the vaccines to them, directly. The local health departments could have put in their own orders, as welll; but under Sebelius' plan, HHS controlled everything.

People will suffer, and some will die, because of this failure of the HHS plan.

Karrey Britt 8 years, 7 months ago

The clinic offers a much quicker way for people to get vaccinated compared to making an appointment at a clinic or pharmacy. Also, the department only had the gym until 6 p.m. because the Haskell basketball team needed to use it. The department started declining people around 5 p.m. and everyone in line got vaccinated by 6 p.m. I thought they estimated that very well considering the circumstances. Finding space, finding volunteers, estimating how much vaccine they will receive, and how many people will get the vaccine is not an easy task.

jungle 8 years, 7 months ago

I thought it was very poorly run today and you are right godot some will die, I hope it won't be any from today who arrived before six and were refused the shot ( read haskellnews blog ) and why were gloves not worn ? People standing in the rain rude, parking security, rude Douglas County Health Dept Employees what a mess ! Nothing short of a disaster.

jungle 8 years, 7 months ago

Declining people health care so basketball can be played ? There is something WRONG with that picture. Didn't the Douglas County Health Dept know that ahead of time ? Maybe they should have went else where if Haskell was going to need their gym. Or maybe Haskell could have given up one night of basketball, so lifes could have been saved !

Joseph Jarvis 8 years, 7 months ago

I was vaccinated at the clinic today and thought it well run overall. I arrived around 1:30 and was vaccinated around 3:00. The bottlenecks were low number of nurses giving shots and delays caused by small children. One volunteer told me they had eight nurses giving shots, but I thought I counted a couple more. That's not very many considering the volume of people. I wish they'd done an adults-only express line too.

jackiestancil 8 years, 7 months ago

I am 5 months pregnant live in Lawrence, work in Topeka,and got off work early, only to show up at the HINI Clinic at 5:15 and be told that I could not get the shot. If they were closing the doors at 5 this should have been posted with the schedule in the newspaper. There were many other people that also were there the same time as me. How frustrating for all these people and what a total lack of planning on the part of the health department. The health department supposedly wants high risk groups to get vaccinated yet doesn't put out clear information. Does this mean the other clinics coming up really close at the posted time or an hour before?

newshound25 8 years, 7 months ago

Hey...I think giving people options is what I meant by allowing doctors offices to distribute the vaccine. Why not hold clinics and give doctors the ability to distribute. I don't think I said only paying customers should get the vaccine. Please read more carefully slurms-makenzie.

medworld 8 years, 7 months ago

I don't think every office participating in H1N1 vaccination would require appointments for the vaccine and I disagree that the clinic today was as efficient as 13 private offices or pharmacies vaccinating interested people. I am, however, glad the health department offered a clinic today. We are very fortunate in Lawrence KS to have private offices and scores of others - schools, churches, large employers etc., that have stepped up and said YES we will help to this massive effort. My only point is when you have qualified people who are willing and able to assist - take the help and perhaps lessen the stress of this process.

Karrey Britt 8 years, 7 months ago

A Haskell representative said the university did not set a time limit on the clinic and the hours were determined by the health department. The representative said the Haskell volleyball and basketball teams gave up practice time so the clinic could be held.

Brian Green 8 years, 7 months ago

Seriously, we are arguing about taking a little time to get a free shot to keep disease away. I waited two hours for my 18 month old to be "diagnosed" with H1N1. I was happy that my pregnant wife and two kids could go and get the shot today. They weren't complaining about a wait to get the shot. Revisit your priorities people. Sometimes you have to wait a bit.

Bobo Fleming 8 years, 7 months ago

I was there at 1:00 line was not very long. I think the event was well organized and mainly went well. I think it would be very hard to plan. On the internet I read that some of the clinics nation wide have few people showing and others are swamped. Cudos to the health department.

jungle 8 years, 7 months ago

brianjay1 People have a right to complain they stood in the rain, they got locked out when they showed up on time, look at the picture that goes with these comments The Health Dept didn't even wear gloves. Bad bad planning. Also if Haskell is saying there was no time limit for the health dept to be out of the building then the health dept was also lying to people !

lawrencechick 8 years, 7 months ago

Let's try not to live up to our reputation as whining Americans. This is an extraordinary situation that calls for extraordinary patience. Be thankful you have any access to a vaccine, a lot of towns still do not. Maybe everyone criticizing the overwhelmed medical staff could volunteer as support staff at the next 4 clinics. There is nothing like people who love to add to the problem instead of the solution.

jdoe 8 years, 7 months ago

I would really like to be patient except I'm more than 8 months pregnant and the shot would be much more beneficial to me and my baby if I had it before the birth (which is any day now). I also showed up just after 5 pm and was turned away. The parking staff were very rude and far more concerned with basketball games than vaccinations. I called the health department and spoke to a person before I went. They should have said the lines closed at 5 pm. I have a Master's Degree in Public Health and work in health policy. I admit that Douglas County has done better than a lot of counties in Kansas, but that isn't saying much. This has been a true debacle for the entire state. We're lucky the flu is not yet more serious, but I worry about what will happen in another couple of months or if a more serious strain were to hit. Instead of raging on the LJ World comment site though, maybe we should all call our state representatives who have systematically cut funding to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which trickles down to lower health departments.

marele86 8 years, 7 months ago

Remember, there was an average of over an hour to get through the line. Turning people away at 5pm was the only way to ensure that everyone in line would be able to receive a vaccine. It was good foresight to ensure that nobody would wait for nothing, and yesterday was not the only H1N1 clinic, after all. They needed to make sure, for the sake of their volunteers and employees, that they would be done at 6pm as promised.

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