H1N1 flu shot clinic draws a crowd

2009-10-30T00:30:00Z H1N1 flu shot clinic draws a crowdBy Rachel Beck, Gazette-Times reporter Corvallis Gazette Times
October 30, 2009 12:30 am  • 

The gymnasium of the Boys & Girls Club of Corvallis was noisy and bustling Thursday evening - pretty typical for the facility. But the kids and parents on scene weren't there for any afterschool fun. Instead, they were there for vaccinations against the H1N1 flu virus.

Knowing it had very little vaccine available, Benton County Health Department held a little-publicized H1N1 (or "swine flu") vaccine clinic Thursday. Health officials sent notifications to Corvallis schools. The news spread, and hundreds of people lined up out the door and into the rain, a line of hopefuls who waited in the hope that some vaccine would remain by the time time their "priority group" was called.

The vaccines were available only to Benton County residents who fell into one of the priority groups identified by the CDC: pregnant women, people who live with or who care for children younger than 6 months of age, healthcare and emergency medical services professionals; people who are ages 6 months to 24 years old and people 25 to 64 years old who have certain underlying medical conditions.

Marisabel Gouverneur, public health program manager with the Benton County Department of Public Health and a registered nurse, said the county had 625 to 650 vaccine doses available to administer at the clinic. The clinic was scheduled to run from 3 to 7 p.m. By 6:30 p.m., they'd run out of injectable doses.

Some nasal spray vaccines remained, but many "priority" people can't have the nasal version, including pregnant women, children younger than 2 years old and people with asthma.

Benton County, along with the rest of the country, has received far fewer doses of the vaccine than expected.

According to the Oregon Department of Human Services, about half of the state's population fall into an H1N1 vaccine-eligible priority group. As of this week, Oregon had received about 6 percent of the vaccine needed for those people.

Gouverneur said the county is not stockpiling doses and tries to administer each delivery quickly.

"We are trying very hard to give the vaccines to the people as fast as we can get them," Gouverneur said. "We we think there's a certainty the vaccine will come, we announce a clinic."

The state mandates that 30 percent of the vaccine be distributed in public places so citizens can access it.

But the problem, she said, is not about access or publicizing the clinics - it's simply that there's not enough vaccine. And that glitch is in the very first link of the chain.

"The issue is the manufacturer is only making a certain number, and it is inadequate," she said.

The supply nowhere near to meeting the demand, and Gouverneur acknowledged people are bound to be frustrated when they can't get it. According to the CDC, the number of sick people who are showing up in their doctor's office with flu-like symptoms is higher than normal - and increasing.

The long line out the door of the Boys & Girls Club of Corvallis at 1112 N.W. Circle Blvd. was a clear indicator of demand for the vaccine.

Corvallis police were on hand for crowd control and assistance, but there were no unruly incidents.

Students from the Oregon State University College of Pharmacy and volunteer nurses helped to administer vaccines.

"It's the best of the Corvallis community, coming forward for each other," Gouverneur said.

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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