About the crowds at County’s free flu shot clinic…

What do you all make of the massive crowds at yesterday’s free Sac County H1N1 flu vaccine clinic? On the one hand, even though there have been reports of people trying to cut in line (you stay classy!) and of folks who are not “high risk” being given the vaccines anyway, it seems to have been a pretty civil affair. On the other hand, thousands of people lined up in the cold to get vaccines from the government isn’t exactly a heartwarming sight. What do you all think?

Author: CoolDMZ

"X-ray vision to see in between / Where's my kimono and my time machine?"

39 thoughts on “About the crowds at County’s free flu shot clinic…”

  1. Would it have been heartwarming to see “thousands of people lined up in the cold to get vaccines” from Novartis AG? Not following your point with that line, DMZ.


  2. Good question. I couldn’t see that happening, but since it would be a private company doing a giveaway it would not be as depressing to me. Why can’t doctors offices get these doses? If it’s because there really are as many little kids or sick people without health insurance as they say, then that’s pretty serious.


  3. What about the flipside guys? Those of us with ‘excellent’ health benefits can’t get the vaccine and no one seems to care about that. I pay a hefty premium for these benefits and don’t have the time to spend an entire day waiting for a vaccine. I think it’s people like me that will end up suffering. *I know, a tad dramatic but you get my point.


  4. @plumwin I think you are playing into DMZ’s *point* that this program is being administered by the government and not the health care providers that *should* be the ones to decide who gets the shot and at what cost. If that were the case you’d be rewarded for having those “excellent health benefits” by getting the vaccine.

    This interpretation of DMZ’s point has been brought to you by the letter “O.”


  5. Hank – I definitely understand your argument. However I think the folks who are deemed to need the vaccine most should be getting it — not just the folks who can pay. Why is handing out vaccines to crowds of people a better idea than getting the vaccines to people wherever they normally get their care? Are there really so many of those types of people (children and chronically ill) without *any* means of seeing a doctor? If so what happens when they tell us that everybody else should get the vaccine too?

    That being said, it sounds like it was a pretty calm affair, so right awn, Sacramentans for that.


  6. Hank,
    I just find it appalling that I can’t get the vaccine for my child without spending an entire day waiting in line. That’s all I’m saying.


  7. Whoa, whoa, whoa …

    Are you arguing the point that those folks that do not fall in the “high need” category should not have access to it? I believe the free clinic was intended to serve that audience, but it was left to each person to fill out the form truthfully. And we all know what happens when individuals are left to govern themselves 🙂

    Or, are you still trying to argue that it’s tough see a mass of people gather for a government hand out?

    And how is this different than when the Governor calls a State of Emergency for an unruly forest fire which allows the government (state and federal, right?) to step in and provide resources and money to help put it out?

    At any rate, I think we do agree that if the vaccine was distributed better everyone could get it just like they do with the seasonal vaccine (their doctor, Raley’s, Walgreen’s, their employer, etc.).


  8. I have no problem with the county clinics handing out the vaccine to people without insurance – in fact, I encourage it. However, when your spokespeople are saying “if you have insurance, please don’t come to the clinics, go to you doctor” when they know damn well that the doctors don’t have the vaccine yet, it’s their own fault that they get thousands more showing up than they are able to get vaccine for.

    A couple weeks ago, my son’s pediatrician (UCD) told us our best bet would be with the clinics. He didn’t know when UCD would be getting the vaccine. I share his anger.

    On the bright side, no one has driven a car through any of the clinic sites. Yet.


  9. Hank – You’re right, what I meant to say was that I was that I do NOT believe that only folks who can pay should be getting it (your interpretation of my point). Also I don’t challenge the idea that the government controls the supply of certain vaccines (or however it works). I’m just not sure that this is the best mode of getting it out there. It seems like a few gatherings like this and things start to look at lot more panicky than they might be. How big will the next one be? Especially after this one was so low key. Maybe what I’m saying is that a few people in line should have thrown some punches. Wait no that’s not what I’m saying.


  10. Maybe they should institute a freemium model or a fastpass like at disneyland (and a local mental health clinic).

    The fastpass model has certain psychosocial advantages.

    People could go through a line (very quickly) and be assigned a 90 minute window to reappear for their vaccine administration. Forcing recipients to leave come back short circuits the “herding instinct” that would have kept them in line against their best interests. They would have a chance to re-evaluate whether they really needed the vaccine or not.

    The fastpass model would also facilitate a “triage” system whereby the highest risk population could be offered easier access to the vaccine.


  11. Here’s another angle: Does it seem smart to ask thousands of these high risk people to queue up in one location to get a vaccine against an infectious disease? Obviously I’m not the only person out there who thought of that.


  12. I have no idea why people are being told that doctors offices don’t have the vaccine – but as far as I know if you have a doctor and insurance and are in one of the groups identified as high risk, you can get the vaccine. I’m pregnant and I got mine today at my OB appt, and my son has an appt. to get his tomorrow, from his pediatricians office.
    My understanding was the free clinics were not meant to replace doctors offices giving out the vaccine, but were in addition to those services for people who do not have insurance or a doctor.


  13. Actually I’ve been on a wait list for 6 weeks to get my infant son the vaccine through our doctor, covered by insurance. Finally they advised me to take him to the clinic because of the shortage they are suffering. They are losing the competition with government health care.

    I think this is a relevant look at our future under Obama-care. When medical care is in the hands of the government rather than private sources we can expect shortages, rationing, and poor delivery. We can also expect private “options” to be unavailable as it becomes impossible for them to compete with the government. A safety net is great in theory but what we’re seeing in these clinics has nothing to do with a safety net and everything to do with “universal” health care.

    I feel sorry for the hundreds of County workers who were laid off this year only to see the County footing the bill for thousands to be vaccinated against a relatively low-risk virus without any oversight whatsoever – no proof of income, residency, citizenship, or even qualification of being in a “high-risk group.” This situation represents incompetent medical care and irresponsible stewardship of resources in the hands of our current leadership.

    Whichever way you slice it it’s time to replace the Board of Supervisors.


  14. There are probably a myriad of reasons as to why all these people showed up to get a shot. Maybe the media is sending people into a subconscious panic about it. Maybe the manufacturers are purposely not creating enough of the vaccine in order to inflate stock prices. Maybe the manufacturer can’t get enough capital to create the vaccine at a rate that meets demand. Maybe it’s just that because we’ve been inundated with the urgency to get the vaccine, many people have decided they need it regardless of risk.

    I really doubt the government has anything to do with how quickly the vaccine is getting out there. Of course, anything is possible.


  15. Stood in line Tues at Rio Linda H S for my son to get the shot. Line was long, took three hours, but went smoothly and everyone was polite. Reminded me of standing in line in the 50’s for the Polio vacine. Are you people so spoiled that you think standing in line is a hardship? Yes I have insurance, my health care provider has no vacine. The county screened people to make sure those not at risk did not get the shot. Remember, the at risk group is school age children and people with health issues.


  16. kathy – If there was a shot for you, why didn’t your doctor have it? And is administering thousands of shots in a non-medical facility really safe? And once again, this is not about who should get the shot. It’s merely a question about the appropriateness of giving them out in this manner.


  17. Kathy, how exactly was the country screening people? Taking their word for it, right? So anyone can say they have an underlying medical condition or dress like Santa? Brilliant plan.


  18. I walked down the line, sneezing, coughing, and shaking everyone’s hand, thanking them for showing their support for Obama’s HINI flu. Since the innoculations don’t take for 10 days, they will all be sick. Even if only 2% die, that might be just enough of the poor for the GOP to pull one off come next November!

    Hey Kathy- what job do you have that you can take 3 hours off in the middle of the day? Because it sounds like only people who don’t have jobs (ergo, no health insurance that THEY pay for) are getting the vaccine. I’d think you’d want the poeple who actaully WORK and contribute to society to be getting the vaccine…


  19. At least you can kiss a homeless person with the confidence of knowing that he/she/it has gotten its vaccination. Loves n Fishes gets 1000 doses, and my kid’s doctor still doesn’t have any shots???

    Lets assume for a moment that the vaccine is safe and it works. Lets also assume that this flu knocks you on your ass for 3 weeks, if not actually killing you. Who should really be getting the vaccine? I don’t see any justification for the “homeless” getting it over ANYONE with private health insurance. Or is this yet another reason why being a working Joe is stupid, compared to just going on welfare?


  20. @turty When your kid catches the flu, you will take him/her/it to your primary care physician. Your primary care physician will proscribe fluids and rest and possibly some tamiflu if you have good insurance or it has some other risk factors for flu. Total cost to the health care system = $400

    When a hobo gets the flu, they’ll end up at an emergency room. The hobo is much more likely to have some other risk factors that make the flu more serious. By the time the hobo is out of the ER and back on the street, the health system is in it for $3,500

    Turty, your kid can’t have the vaccine, because it would cost the health system $3,100. Besides… The vaccine is full of nanoprobes that the government will use to create a robot army.


  21. So the Govt should pay me $30,000 a year to promise to follow all laws, because if I was locked up for some violation, I would cost the Govt $40,000 a year in prision?

    Lets stop rewarding poor decisions. Go ahead- BE homeless/jobless, but don’t expect anyone to give you anything. Or go ahead and steal that ____, but don’t expect a new kidney/teeth/heart while in jail. Lets reward GOOD desicions: Got a full time job? You are first in line for good medical care. You get to pay LESS in taxes because you don’t have to support all the able-bodied idiots who CHOOSE to not work. And you get to decide how to spend the money you earn! Ah- what a dreamworld.


  22. The government does pay you $30k a year for being a good citizen. It’s more of a barter system, but they are providing you with roads. Try paving your own road sometimes. $30k will get you about 100 yards past the end of your driveway. That hobo doesn’t get to use the road from jail, so there’s your payoff.


  23. TS: The problem with that (besides the lack of anything resembling human compassion) is that we’re talking about an infectious disease. If as many people as possible don’t get vaccinated, then people who are deserving (in your calculus) who forget to get vaccinated or are too busy working to do it, will get sick. If you were talking about elective surgeries you’d have a better time making your cold, heartless case.


  24. When we’re dealing with something that’s been internationally categorized as a pandemic situation, we shouldn’t be shocked at some of this ensuing chaos. This is the US health care system operating under the model it has always had for decades.

    The compounding issue is that despite the great quality of care in this country, access – as we are seeing – is a major issue even WHEN you have insurance under the “system” (if you can call a jumbled mess running in 100 different directions a “system”) that currently exists. This isn’t “Obama-care” – nothing that has been politically labeled as such has even legislatively been implemented.

    There are just too many intermediaries and levels of bureaucracy (both public and private), and when you increase the number of intermediaries, you increase the opportunities for failure.


  25. Quite right. But the regular flu kills what, 10x as many people annually as have died from Hiney Flu so far, and they manage to get doses for regular flu to (most of) the people who need them without throwing hypo needles from the back of a truck. Can we blame the media?

    (BTW If we get to 50 comments I will ramp that up to “without dropping them from a helicopter” and at 100 we hit “without dropping a box of vaccines at the hospital and doing a doorbell ditch.”)


  26. I think SFChick74‘s comment above sums it up. There are probably several things going on.

    I don’t think delivering vaccines is an exact science. I seem to recall a couple of years ago when they administered a vaccine to combat an expected flu virus during flu season and it turned out another flu virus ran rampant and caught us off guard. If we had the same media attention about the seasonal flu that we’ve had about H1N1 for the past year, I’m sure people would be demanding their Starbucks with a double shot of vaccine.


  27. California has 10 million children and about 2 million of them are uninsured with just as many lacking adequate health insurance. One in six American adults is uninsured with just as many lacking adequate health insurance.

    Lack of health insurance is a problem, but also is the incapability to navigate the health care system. It is complicated as hell, especially when trying to get free or discounted care, and some people simply cannot handle it.


  28. I wasn’t blaming anyone. Why does everything have to be someone’s fault?

    DMZ was asking if there were really that many people who have nowhere to go for a flu shot that they have to stand in a big crowd.

    My answer was yes.


  29. The real problem is that you’re all not smoking enough. 25 cents from every pack goes to providing health care for the uninsured. So, I blame the non-smokers.


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