About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Questions, complaints about the shot

I feel like I’ve written a lot of flu stories in recent days, between the H1N1 vaccination program and seasonal flu clinics. Each time after a story appears, I get e-mails and phone calls from unhappy people. All but one of the critics have been polite, even sympathetic to the crazy way this season has unfolded. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t have questions, complaints, comments and ideas as to how things could have been done better.

Here’s a sampling of what I’ve heard:Flu clinic

* One mom worried for her two teenage sons who have congenital heart defects. She asked why healthy children got the H1N1 shot before her children. 

* Another mom thought it would have been better to split the vaccine among the localities, rather than give all that was available then to Stafford schools. She also asked why elementary-age children weren’t vaccinated before the older ones.

* A common complaint comes from the parents of preschool children. Preschoolers are not invited to school-based clinics, parents say, and local pediatricians don’t have the shot and don’t know when they’re going to get it. “What are we to do?” one mom asked.

* A dad asked why Stafford schools advertised that they would give the vaccine only to children enrolled there, yet vaccinated everyone in line, no questions asked, including siblings and children from other localities.

* Another dad asked why Stafford started its clinics earlier than advertised, penalizing parents who worked and couldn’t get there until later.

* One man asked why the seasonal-flu, drive-by clinic in Stafford was held on a weekday, when most people are working. It did not surprise him that turnout was light, and that there was left-over vaccine. “If this or any vaccine clinic were scheduled on a Saturday, the turnout would be totally different,” he wrote.

* Speaking of the left-over seasonal flu vaccine, one man wanted to know how he could get some of it. He said he was having a hard time finding a flu shot. 

I am sympathetic to all the complainants, especially the last one. Here at the Free Lance-Star we were told yesterday that the folks in human resources have found another vendor who will come here and give employees the seasonal flu shot. Our original vendor told us that it did not have any vaccine. The new vendor? Walgreens.

(Above, Health Department nurse Vera Lloyd administers the nasal-mist version of the H1N1 vaccine at a clinic at North Stafford High School.)