Long lines plague flu shot clinic
If you went to the Grand Forks Public Health on Friday morning not expecting to wait in line for vaccinations, you were fooling yourself. "People were lined up after 7 a.m., and the clinic didn't start until 8:30," Tim Haak said. The county's env...
If you went to the Grand Forks Public Health on Friday morning not expecting to wait in line for vaccinations, you were fooling yourself.
"People were lined up after 7 a.m., and the clinic didn't start until 8:30," Tim Haak said. The county's environmental health supervisor, Haak was directing waiting lines on the first floor of the Grand Forks County Office Building.
The department had suggested showing up according to the first letter of people's last names but had also said people could get the vaccine anytime.
Just after 10:30 a.m., about 100 people were waiting for the elevators to take them up to the third floor, where the department was holding an H1N1 vaccine clinic. People with walkers, small children, even those who had just finished an overnight shift on their job were told the wait would be an hour to an hour and a half. Those who had just finished their shots said the wait stretched longer than two hours.
Don Shields, public health director, was an elevator operator Friday, taking up about eight people at a time.
"The computers melted down at 8:10 this morning, so it's been paperwork ever since," Shields said, apologizing for the wait. "There's a big pool of people this virus can circulate through, so you're helping both yourself and someone else by being vaccinated."
It took about 45 minutes to get up to the third floor where people filled out a questionnaire, then stood in line until they reached an area of three dozen chairs set up on the east end of the floor. Once inside the "clinic entrance," eight computer terminals were set up to process the paperwork and insurance. Some were there just for an H1N1 shot, while others also received shots for the seasonal flu, shingles and tetanus.
Debbie Swanson, Public Health nursing and nutrition supervisor, said the clinic served 647 people and likely administered more than 1,000 vaccinations because many people received both H1N1 and seasonal flu shots.
Shields said the department conducted a clinic in Larimore, N.D., on Thursday.
"We saw about 250 people and administered about 350 vaccinations," Shields said.
By 1 p.m., another 100 people were waiting on the third floor, but the long line on the first floor was gone.
The clinic technically ended at 4:30 p.m., but people in line by that time continued to get vaccines until about 5:45 p.m., Swanson said. Another flu vaccination clinic will likely be held in early January.
Shields said 25 public employees and dozens of volunteers from the city of Grand Forks, Altru, Aurora Clinic and UND Student Health helped with Friday's clinic.
Herald staff writer Ryan Johnson contributed to this report. Reach Jim Johnson at (701) 780-1262; (800) 477-6572, ext. 262; or send e-mail to email@example.com .