By James Cullum
The 1500 doses of H1N1 vaccine made available to the public yesterday in Alexandria went fast. The vaccine was distributed at George Washington Middle School. By 9:09 a.m. there were more than 1200 people in line. The vaccine was originally going to be made available from 9 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., but the clinic reached capacity by noon.
“I heard there was someone waiting in line at 1:00 in the morning to get the vaccine,” said Dr. Kelly Woodward, operations manager for the Alexandria Health Department. “But most people started waiting in line at 4:00 in the morning.”
There were 12 vaccination stations and it takes an average of ten minutes for a reasonably healthy person to be inoculated, said Dr. Lisa Kaplowitz, director of the Alexandria Health Department. “But we’ve had a lot more little children than we expected. It takes longer to inoculate younger children. They scream, they jump, they bite. It gets pretty intense,” she said. “We’re completely out of vaccine today. We started to give out tickets a while ago so that people wouldn’t have to wait in line and be disappointed… We had hoped to do these clinics every weekend in November, but we won’t have the vaccine. If we don’t get it by next week then we’ll most likely start the clinics in December.”
Mike Bohn and his four-year-old daughter, Gretta, waited in line for four-and-a-half hours. “I have no idea what time it is right now,” he said. “I’m pretty tired.”
At noon, it was announced that the clinic had reached capacity. Sarah Sirait and her daughter, Anne Yannutz, were at the end of that three-hour line. “I heard about the clinic this morning on the news,” said Sirait, who lives in Stafford. “It’s hard to see the pregnant women all go away because they don’t have tickets, but I’ve got high blood pressure.”
Alexandrian Linda Hauledahl received an H1N1 vaccination from her doctor, but waited four and a half hours in line so that her four-year-old daughter, Haley, could be vaccinated. “We’re very tired. I had no idea it was going to be this packed. We showed up at 9:30 in the morning. If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t, knowing now how long it took,” Hauledahl said.
Like many children, Haley cried and lashed out when the needle approached. It took two VDH staffers to hold her down.