Local News

Orange depletes H1N1 vaccine stock before clinics open

Posted October 23, 2009 6:55 p.m. EDT
Updated October 24, 2009 10:38 a.m. EDT

— Demand was so great for H1N1 vaccines in Orange County that officials began turning people away even before two immunization clinics opened Friday.

Donna King, director of health education in Orange County, became a traffic cop, steering people away from a clinic in Chapel Hill shortly before it began vaccinating people at 1:30 p.m.

"We're out. We're sorry," King told people as they drove up to the vaccination clinic in Chapel Hill.

Sarah Burgess wanted to get her son vaccinated and was angry when she learned the clinic had run out of shots.

"I think they should have been more prepared. There's a lot of people that need this vaccination," Burgess said. "I just wanted to get him vaccinated, because he's in day care and he seems to catch everything."

Orange County had 225 H1N1 flu shots to distribute – 150 in Chapel Hill and 75 in Hillsborough.

"We are just pushing it out as fast as we can, and right now, our demand is a little bit more than our supply," King said. "We are anticipating more. We just can't give that specific date and time."

The county restricted the shots to those in high-risk groups: pregnant women, people taking care of children under 6 months, children and young adults age 6 months to 24 years, health care and emergency workers and people with underlying health conditions who are prone to the flu.

People in line were asked to fill out a form and tell a nurse about how they qualified for a vaccination. Still, the system relied on the honor code since officials didn't require anyone to provide proof that they were in a high-risk group.

"We would hope, in a medical situation, that people would be honest with their medical history," King said.

Christine Hudelson was more anxious than angry after being turned away. She has a 10-day-old daughter and another young child.

"We just want to make sure we get it. We've got folks from out of town who are helping with the baby and a little one in day care," Hudelson said. "I wish there were more vaccines nationwide so they didn't have to turn people away, but there is nothing they can do about it."

Phyllis Holt, who has asthma, was able to get vaccinated before the clinic ran out of shots. She said she felt bad for the people who weren't able to get one.

"I feel very, very fortunate," Holt said.