Flu Shot Outlook Brighter for 2005

Reporter: Shannon Samson

When the Visiting Nurse Association opened its doors Monday morning, a hundred people were already waiting to get their flu shots.

But once the morning faded into the afternoon, so did the long lines. And getting vaccinated became simple again.

"No long lines this year. Easy in, easy out." And that's quite a relief to nurse Cindy Meeks compared to last year, when a national shortage of the flu serum led to a surplus of seniors standing in grocery store aisles for hours, with no guarantee that there would even be any of the vaccine left by the time they got to the front of the line.

So if they did get a shot, "It was such a panic last year more than anything else that they were so relieved. Sometimes you had folks standing in line and not eating and then they were very weak, it's just hard, " Meeks says.

So this year, the Visiting Nurse Association is doing things a little differently. Instead of 100 flu shot clinics mostly at grocery stores, they're planning only 25 clinics at the VNA and senior centers around the Tri-State, places where they can put a lot of chairs just in case crowds swell again.

And no more giving flu shots until they run out at each clinic. This year, there will be 400 to 500 flu shots set aside for every venue. John Welcher with the VNA says, "We've got a plan by only doing the one site a day, we're making sure we're saving the serum for each site. So hopefully, we'll use all of our serum and everyone who comes will get a shot."

And that's a huge relief for seniors who are among the groups most likely to suffer flu complications. Doris Nelson of Evansville says, "Myself, I'm not getting any younger and I think it's best to take precautions."

Seniors, the chronically ill and pregnant women will only get priority treatment until October 24th and then the Centers for Disease Control says it's OK for providers to give the shots to anyone. At the VNA, that means anyone over nine years old. If your child is younger, check with your pediatrician.

So we don't want to say yes, definitely there are enough shots to go around this year, we just want to stress that so far, chances are very good that if you want a shot, you'll get one. And to avoid long lines, plan on going in the afternoon.