Thousands turned away at Snohomish Co. flu shot clinics



Posted on October 31, 2009 at 11:12 AM

Updated Saturday, Oct 31 at 5:12 PM

Swine flu vaccination clinics - Oct 31, 2009

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EVERETT, Wash. - Thousands of people waited in line in Snohomish County for the chance to get a swine flu vaccination, and within hours, nearly all of the 30,000 doses were gone.

Starting at 3 a.m. hundreds of people lined up outside of 10 mass vaccinations clinics.

Diana Ranger was first in line at the Community Health Center of Snohomish County in Everett. She convinced her kids to get up before the sunrise, 

"I told them were were trick or treating. This is the trick and later we are going treating," she said.

The Snohomish District has been planning the Halloween weekend clinics since June. Orginally the county health department only had 17,000 doses of the vaccine but on Friday they received another huge shipment of about 17,000 more doses. So on Saturday clinics were able to give out more than 30,000 doses to high risk patients.

"Thirty-thousand doses in a single morning, a single day, is a lot of vaccine. That is approximately 30 percent of the population of Everett. That is a huge win for the system we set up, " said Dr. Yuan-Po Tu of The Everett Clinic.

Health officials say Snohomish County has about 700,000 residents. Officials originally hoped to offer vacinations to everyone by the end of November.

Right now there is a nationwide shortage of the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control is limiting how many doses are shipped to counties leading to shortages. 

"The only thing we really regret today is that we did not have enough vaccine to vaccinate everybody who wanted it," said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, Health Officer of the Snohomish Health District.

Snohomish health clinics offered the shots to those at most risk to contracting the H1N1 influenza. Those at risk include: Pregnant women, all persons ages 6 months through 24 years, caregivers of young children, persons ages 25-64 years old who have medical conditions, teachers, day care providers, emergency personnel and health care workers.

Those over the age of 65 were not given the shots because health officials say they had prior exposure to a cousin of the swine flu, which occured from 1918 to 1957.

"So for the seniors who got infected with influenza before 1957, many of them have protected antibodies that cross-react, therefore they have not been getting infected ," said Dr. Tu.

By noon, thousands of people were being turned away after the clinics ran out of vaccine.

Bill Shoop and his two young boys were told he wasn't guaranteed a shot but he refused to get discouraged.

"It's worth standing in line for a couple of hours to have a family that is not sick," he said. 

Arnold and Elaine Baker said they will keep trying, even after driving to several clinics without success.

Eric Foss and his 2-year-old daughter Anna drove all the way from Seattle to Marysville only to discover long lines and a shortage of doses.

"I was very surprised it was this long. I chose Marysville because the Web site said the wait was two hours. But the wait at the other sites was much longer," said Foss.

Snohomish County health officials say they expect more vaccines later in the month. They plan to hold more public clinics. The information will be posted on the Snohomish Health district Web site