Evansville's First Flu Shot Clinic Comes Up Short

Reporter: Shannon Samson

Web Producer: Amber Griswold

Because of a nationwide shortage of vaccines, a line formed early at one of the first flu shot clinics of the season in Evansville.

The clinic, at Schnucks on Washington Avenue, originally had enough of the vaccine to supply five clinics at its Evansville stores. But now with the shortage, the CDC stepped in and took some of their supply to reallocate to high-need areas around the country.

That left the store with only 300 doses of the vaccine to administer Friday and they went quickly. Several people had to be turned away without their vaccine.

The hundreds of people that wound around the refrigerator section at Schnucks east, got a flu shot because some of them got to the store as early as at 8 a.m. to get a ticket.

Betty Crabtree got there at two, after the tickets were long gone.

She commented, "I knew that you had to have a ticket, but I thought if I got here early enough I'd get it."

The crowds and the waiting are enough to make plenty of seniors lose their patience.

Bob Hinkel waited for his shot and said, "It's a very bad hassle. Can you imagine? We have such intelligent people in this country and we have the vaccine made overseas in England and they can't even use good quality controls to control the product and then it's contaminated and why don't we make it in this country?"

Actually, the only doses that are available are made by Aventis Pharmaceuticals in Pennsylvania. The company can't make enough to meet the overwhelming demand, so companies like Maxim Health Systems, who handles the flu shots for Schnucks has to prioritize who gets the shot, according to the guidelines put out by the C.D.C.

Chris Littleton of Maxim Health Systems explained, "This is the best thing we can possibly do, answer a few questions and I guess pick at them to a certain extent to find out if to verify if this is in fact the truth, but yes, we do to a certain extent have to go off the individual's word, what they're telling us."

Karen Robertson has very special reasons for needing the shot.

Robertson explained why she was waiting in the long line for the shot, saying, "Our youngest, I get emotional, he's getting ready to have open heart surgery at Riley and Riley has advised us to get the flu vaccine because we can't be brining anything into this house this winter."

The shots were administered right on schedule to the relief of many. As for the 700 or so people turned away at this clinic, they only have more crowds and lines to look forward to.

Betty Crabtree, who was turned away, said, "I'll get a flu shot somewhere. Somewhere or some way. I'm entitled. I'm almost 80."

Schnucks was originally going to hold five such clinics like this, but because of the shortage had to scale back to two. The other clinic is Saturday at the store on First Avenue. It starts at ten, but they'll start issuing line numbers at seven a.m. Again, there are only 300 shots available, so get there early.

The Visiting Nurse Association is also holding other flu shot clinics at area Schnucks stores and several other venues all over the tri-state.

For a schedule of the Visiting Nurse Association's flu shot clinics in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, click here.