H1N1 updateClinics increase security owing to anger over H1N1 vaccine shortage

Published 29 October 2009

Clinics around the country report anger among people who come to be vaccinated, only to find H1N1 vaccine shortages; some clinics bolster security

A health clinic in Terre Haute, Indiana, is bolstering its security for fear H1N1 vaccine shortages could lead to unrest. Officials at the Vigo County Annex told the local news station that hostile people have come in looking for the vaccine when none is available. WTHITV.com reports:

Officials warn that hostile behavior will not make the vaccine become available any sooner.

We know this is a very frustrating and challenging time. Please be patient with us. We are doing the best with the limited amount of doses that we have and trying to roll this out to those target groups and also at a later date to the general public,” Megan Bland with the Vigo County Health Department said.

A press release on the Vigo County Web site released last week said that the county is beginning to vaccinate target groups, as set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Target groups, according to the release, contain first responders, pregnant women, care givers of newborns, people between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old, and people with compromised immune systems between the ages of 24 and 65 years old.

The first responders and emergency workers will take care of everyone else if there is an outbreak,” the release states. “Once we have vaccinated this target group we will move to the next target group and so on until we have all of the target groups vaccinated.”

The county says vaccinating the target groups will take 6-to-8 weeks. Afterward, the vaccine will be made available to the general public.

Matthew Harwood writes that the county’s decision to increase up security begs the question if other health clinics will soon follow suit as fears escalate. The fear is real. In Chicago yesterday, people lined up outside a school gymnasium at 9 a.m. for vaccinations not arriving until 3 p.m. According to ABCNews.com:

The Millers and hundreds of others waited for 1,600 doses of the vaccine to arrive along with nurses who planned to administer the vaccines.

At 3 p.m. they began vaccinating only to shut down the line 30 minutes later. There were more people than there was vaccine, so hundreds were turned away, again.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 22.4 million doses of vaccine have been made available so far — a fraction of what was originally promised. In September, officials estimated that 40 million doses of the vaccine would be delivered by the end of October.

On Saturday, President Barack Obama declared the emerging H1N1 pandemic a national emergency. Although this move could provoke more fear, even conspiracy theories, among the general public, Newsweek reports its done for pragmatic public health reasons.

Although conditions like martial law (this would be allowed under any state of emergency) are still possible, the governmental changes invoked by Obama’s declarations have a far more benevolent intent. Hospitals are given the power to set up care sites outside of hospitals-in parking lots, schools and the like—without federal interference. This not only slows the spread of the speedy virus, but allows additional space for treatment and frees emergency room for more severe cases.