Flu clinic runs out of vaccine

Published 6:14 am Thursday, October 28, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Senior citizens began lining up well before 9 a.m. Wednesday to get flu shots at the Niles Senior Center on Bell Road.
The Niles clinic, the third of seven clinics offered by the Berrien County Health Department for senior citizens 65 years and older, is the largest of the clinics offered at the county senior centers.
Although the clinic was scheduled to run until 4 p.m., it closed around 3 p.m. when the clinic ran out of vaccine doses after administering more than 1,200 shots, said Carol Klukas, Health Department community preventative health services manager.
Staff from the health department and Lakeland Regional Medical System welcomed the seniors as they got in line and handed out cards with numbers to keep track of individuals.
The first clinic held at the St. Joseph/Lincoln Senior Center on Monday closed early when it ran out of vaccine after administering about 900 shots, said Stacey Masters, the health department emergency services education specialist.
The clinic held Tuesday at the Benton Harbor Senior Center ran until 4 p.m. as scheduled, administering approximately 250 shots, with extra doses left over. The leftover doses were brought to the Niles clinic Wednesday.
The average wait for the vaccine was two hours as clinic workers served about 285 people per hour during the early hours of the clinic.
Some brought folding chairs and books to read in anticipation of the wait, others chose to stand and converse with friends they car-pooled with.
The health department and senior center also offered chairs for individuals who wished to sit while waiting. Some were allowed to get out of line and sit down until their numbers were called.
The unseasonably warm and sunny weather seemed to have a positive effect on the crowd. Masters said most people were very patient and cooperative while waiting in line.
While most of the people receiving vaccinations were from the Niles area, some, like Fred Slavicek, came from St. Joseph after being turned away at Monday's clinic when supplies ran out.
He passed the time reading "Under Fire," a novel by W.E.B. Griffin.
Although it was initially announced the clinics in Berrien County would be only for country residents, health officials made the decision to allow Cass County residents to be vaccinated as well.
The decision was made after a clinic scheduled for Saturday at Borgess Lee Memorial Hospital in Dowagiac was cancelled earlier in the week.
Patricia Hageman, 76, and Ardith Wiemuth, 79, of Dowagiac, drove to Niles together after hearing the clinic at Lee Memorial was cancelled.
The two arrived at the senior center at 8:50 a.m. to ensure they would be near the front of the line, and received their shots at 11:05 a.m.
Both decided to arrive at the senior center early after hearing some people waited as long as three hours at Monday's clinic in St. Joseph.
Staff members had to turn away some individuals who wanted to get vaccinated though.
Klukas said the most common reason people were turned down to receive the vaccine was because they were from Indiana.
Roberta Illingworth, 61, of Niles was turned away because she was under 65-years-old. Illingworth fits into the high-risk category, suffering from both diabetes and congestive heart failure, but was turned away due to her age.
Illingworth was told to go to the Nov. 8 clinic at the Berrien County Health Department office at 1205 N. Front St. The Nov. 8 clinic will offer vaccinations for individuals in the high risk groups outlined by the Center for Disease Control, who have a prescription.
Another clinic for high risk individuals will be held at the Lakeland Center for Outpatient Services in St. Joseph Nov. 9. Both clinics will run from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Individuals in the 65 and older group will be able to get vaccinated at the Nov. 8 and 9 clinics with proof of age.
Clinics for children six to 23 months old and children two to 18 years-old with chronic medical problems with prescriptions will be held Nov. 10 at the Health Department office at 2106 S. M-139 in Benton Harbor, and Nov. 12 at Health Department office in Niles.
The Benton Harbor clinic will run from 9 a.m to 12 p.m. and the Niles clinic will run from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The remaining flu vaccination clinics for seniors 65 years and older will be held Oct. 28 at the River Valley Senior Center in Harbert, Nov. 1 at the North Berrien Senior Center in Coloma, Nov. 4 at Buchanan Senior Services in Buchanan, and Nov. 5 at the Central County Senior Center in Berrien Srpngs.
Flu vaccinations will cost $15 and can be covered by Medicare. Pneumonia vaccinations will also be available as well at a cost of $20 per shot.