(a woman asked why doctors don't get vax supply but supermarkets do?
Obviously so they can film long lines for this scare campaign?)
Thousands line up for flu shots. One woman dies after collapsing from exhaustion
Saturday, October 16, 2004 Posted: 5:53 PM EDT (2153 GMT)
SOUTH CHARLESTON, West Virginia (AP) -- Seventy-year-old Homer Fink
spent eight hours sitting next to a supermarket Halloween display to
get a flu shot that he wasn't able to get at five other places.
"I've had five bypasses and six stents in me now. I need the shot,"
said Fink, who got the third spot in line by arriving at 1 a.m.
Friday for a clinic scheduled to start at 9 at the Kroger store. It
was the last vaccination clinic in the area.
The scene was repeated across the country as the nation's suddenly
limited supply of flu vaccine was drained. People lined up at
pharmacies and supermarkets in the middle of the night: old folks
with oxygen tanks, sleeping children bundled up in strollers, people
Some collapsed in exhaustion. In the San Francisco area, a 79-year-
old woman died Thursday from head injuries after collapsing from
exhaustion. She had waited four hours in a flu shot line with
hundreds of other seniors. Two elderly women in Concord, California,
were hospitalized after collapsing in a vaccine line.
Hundreds of people had to be turned away Saturday at a Giant
supermarket in Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, because
only 200 doses were available, clinic supervisors said. People had
started lining up at 5 a.m. and those lucky enough to make the
cutoff, mostly elderly, ended up waiting in folding chairs that lined
the store aisles.
A woman was arrested Friday in Shreveport, Louisiana, for disorderly
conduct, accused of yelling at a police officer who was trying to
move a crowd back. Some 600 people had showed up for 250 doses of
The temperature neared 90 Friday in Clovis, California, as 78-year-
old Russ Rock waited in line at a pharmacy, holding ticket No. 264
out of 300 handed out that morning. It was his second day trying to
get a shot.
"If anybody told me I'd have to go through all of this to get a flu
shot, I don't think I would have gotten one," Rock said, surrounded
by other seniors sharing a bit of shade along the side of the
More than a quarter of the 200,000 residents of West Virginia's
Kanawha County usually get a flu shot each year, said Dr. Kerry
Gateley, who heads the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.
But this fall, all sources in the county, including doctors,
hospitals and Kroger, got only 12,000 doses, Gateley said.
By 7:30 a.m. Friday, more than 400 people had lined up inside the
South Charleston Kroger store and managers concerned about exceeding
fire-code capacity told others to wait outside. Some were in
wheelchairs, others had portable oxygen devices or canes.
The store gave its 350 doses of the vaccine only to those at high
risk of flu complications. Most of those were elderly, and a few were
children with chronic conditions.
India Rush, 41, brought her 5-year-old grandson, Marcus Smith,
because he has asthma.
"His pediatrician didn't have the flu shot. He's having to miss
school or be late," Rush said. "I hate that because he is going to
get behind. What can you do?"
Rush and Marcus arrived at the store at 3:40 a.m. He slept for hours
in a stroller next to the organic frozen food cooler. When he finally
got his shot -- after a struggle and lots of tears -- the nurse gave
him $1 to buy a treat.
Louise Garten, 79, of South Charleston, started waiting at 2:40 a.m.
because she has a history of pneumonia.
"I resent the fact the private physicians don't have the shots to
take care of their patients," she said. "The doctors should have it,
then we wouldn't have this mess. You're sick, who can you rely on if
you can't rely on your doctor?"
Just 250 doses of flu vaccine were available at an Albertsons
supermarket in Tampa, Florida, and 65-year-old Suzanne Moore was No.
221 on the list as she sat in a lawn chair reading a magazine just
inside the store's front door Friday afternoon.
"I'm real concerned," said Moore, bald from cancer treatments. "I
have cancer and I'm taking chemotherapy. It's vital for my immune
system that I be inoculated. I don't understand at all how it's
gotten to this point."
People pushed, shoved and accused each other of cutting in line
Saturday outside a Safeway supermarket in San Francisco, but that
didn't deter Rebecca Chen, who spent all night in line in the parking
lot to save a spot for her parents. Hundreds of others were turned
"My mom's very sick, she has cancer," said Chen, 42. "My dad's 76 and
has diabetes and other health problems. It was one night for me, but
it probably saved them from 10 nights in the hospital."