White Coat Underground

My county health department released 10K doses of H1N1 vaccine yesterday and opened up two distribution centers for them. With all the anti-vaccination craziness out there, I was worried no one would show.

Turns out, no need to worry.

My friend went yesterday and waited for four hours with thousands of other people. From a public health perspective, perhaps it would have been better to have multiple smaller centers to avoid exposure, but people did not wait inside in crowded rooms, but outside in the wind. That’s probably better, but who knows. At a time when mass vaccination is needed, and the public health infrastructure of this country is a chaotic hodge-podge of local, state, and federal institutions, it’s amazing anyone gets a vaccine on time at all.

I’m happy the first round of vaccination was popular, not so happy that we had to crowd thousands of people together during a pandemic to do it. Still, it’s a net good—people crowd anyway, and if they do it for vaccination, great.

So the anti-vaxers may be loud, but the public doesn’t seem to be lapping it up. If we are very, very lucky, we may be able to blunt this pandemic a bit.


  1. #1 Katharine
    October 25, 2009


    Within the ‘higher-risk’ groups for H1N1, what is the order of risk?

  2. #2 PalMD
    October 25, 2009

    Good question. Next!

    OK, I’m only kidding a little bit. The risks aren’t ordered, particularly, but, for example, those over 64 with other medical problems should be considered for vaccination after other, higher-risk groups are vaccinated. It’s really not all that clear between high-risk individuals who is “higher” risk, at least as far as I know.

  3. #3 micheleinmichigan
    October 25, 2009

    I’ve had a heck of a time with flu shot this year, still haven’t been able to get my 4 and 6 year old vaccinated for the seasonal flu due to shortages. I have been dreading going out to one of the county H1N1 vaccine sites. If there is one thing worse than standing in line for 4 hours it’s standing in line with a 4 and 6 year old (I’m pretty certain we wouldn’t/couldn’t wait that long).

    I finally tracked down the fact that the children’s hospital where my son receives weekly speech therapy is giving flu shots to all children who have an appt. The downside is, they insist that the shot be given at the appointment site. Sometimes it’s hard enough to get my son to cooperate with speech therapy without adding a negative association.

    Okay, I’m whining here (and have been for the last two weeks.) But does it have to be so hard to get the kids the shots they are supposed to have?

  4. #4 PalMD
    October 25, 2009

    I also haven’t been able to get my kiddo vaccinated yet. For a modern country, we have an ass-backward public health system.

  5. #5 Tsu Dho Nimh
    October 26, 2009

    Arizona has less vaccine than you (smaller population) and they are blunt about who will get the first shots … if you aren’t high-risk it’s not going to happen yet.

    I just want to get the shots before ski season starts!

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