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Our experience at NJ free vaccine clinic.

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  • Our experience at NJ free vaccine clinic.

    Well, what a day! Burlington county, NJ hosted a free H1N1 clinic for children under 5, pregnant ladies, and caregivers for kids under 2. The clinic was scheduled to run from 2-4pm. So Spouse and I called a couple of days in advance checking with the clinic to see if there had been a large number of inquiries. We were told they were getting lots of calls, so we decided to go a little early.
    We packed up some food; nuts, cheese and crackers, juice, hot cocoa, blankets, and laptop, bundled up the two little ones and set off, arriving a little before 12pm. There was already a line of 3 or 4 hundred people stretching around two walls of the building. Three or four police officers were directing traffic. We parked, and duly took our spot at the end of the line.
    A beautiful autumn day, the bright sunshine contrasted the air temperature in the high 40s. People continued to trickle in, by 1 o’ clock there were around 7 to 800 people in line, good natured. Just from talking to the people around me, heightened awareness of H1N1, and also most had got the seasonal shot for the first time this year. Others were unable to get it as many GPs and pharmacies have run out. A nice lady from the red cross went the length of the line handing out cookies, juice and coffee.
    A young man came down the line, with paperwork and little tickets with numbers on. There were two options, shot or mist, and the paperwork helped to decide who got what, we went for mist. Pens were provided. We were given the numbers 287, and 288. By now, the end of the line has disappeared around the building and out of sight. 1:15 Rumour: They’re starting early, people are being let in. At 1:30, the line shuffle forward maybe 5 feet. You may leave the line if you want, we are told, the ticket holds your place. Some parents take kids back to their cars to warm up, our two are eating crackers and drinking cocoa, having great fun.
    It’s surreal, after months of tracking to be here in line with well nigh a thousand people. A man with a Sponge Bob tie comes down the line calling for pregnant women without children to a special line of their own. I guess they must all be getting shots. By 1:50, the line has moved maybe 20 feet, but that’s mostly because people were leaving the line in search of a restroom, some went to the WaWa for coffee. Kids getting antsy, so we put Coraline on the laptop, wrapped ‘em up and sat ‘em in the sun.
    By 2:00, a constant stream of people is walking past us toward the end of the line. The Parking lots are full and cars are parked on the main road as far as the eye can see.
    We’re moving!!! At three o’clock, we have moved about half way up the line. NBC arrives, 5 minutes later CBS arrives, a little later The Philadelphia Inquirer camera man is shooting pictures of everybody. Shuffle Shuffle, past a stand where Red Cross lady is giving out more coffee, juice and water. Snacks all gone. Kids Antsy!! 3:45 we reach the doors. Spouse has to leave for work. Just me and the sprogs left. We’re in. Too warm! Off with the coats. Shuffle Shuffle. Down a hallway. Everybody still in great spirits. Ushers very friendly and helpful, keep remarking how unexpected the crowd was. They’re working through their breaks. Into a waiting room, nurse checks papers. Back into the line in the hallway, shuffle, shuffle.
    4:00 in the actual-real-honest-to-God-you’re-next waiting room.
    In the room, last check on the paperwork, mist one, mist two. Very quick. The clinic should be over by now. What are you going to do with all the people outside I ask. Keep goin’ til there’s none left. Keep an eye on them for 10 minutes she tells me before leaving. I pick up the record cards, thank her and we’re off. Through the exit at the back of the building. Oh there’s the end of the line! Still about 800 people waiting. Gonna take six more hours to get through ‘em all.
    I gotta come back next week for my shot.
    Twitter: @RonanKelly13
    The views expressed are mine alone and do not represent the views of my employer or any other person or organization.

  • #2
    Re: Our experience at NJ free vaccine clinic.

    Thanks RoRo for that post. Very interesting.
    "May the long time sun
    Shine upon you,
    All love surround you,
    And the pure light within you
    Guide your way on."

    "Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, lies your calling."

    “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”
    Mohandas Gandhi

    Be the light that is within.


    • #3
      Re: Our experience at NJ free vaccine clinic.

      Another point of view:

      Hundreds line up in S. Jersey for H1N1 vaccine
      By Edward Colimore and Matthew Spolar


      They started lining up at 8:30 a.m. for free H1N1 vaccinations at a Westampton clinic that wasn't supposed to open until 2 p.m.
      Hundreds of pregnant women, infant caregivers and parents pushing strollers with bundled-up toddlers waited hours in a line that snaked along roads and through parking lots outside the Burlington County Health Department.

      With the death of a local high school student last month and news of increasing numbers of H1N1 cases fresh in their minds, they all sought the vaccine that's been in limited supply across New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

      In the end, 700 were vaccinated, and about 500 received tickets to come back Friday or to a later clinic, county officials said.

      "I was prepared to wait, but not outside like this," said Lori Rapuano of Moorestown said, eyeing 4-year-old Erin and holding onto a stroller with 2-year-old Justin. Her 6-year-old son, Brian, will get the vaccine at his school.

      Today's clinic, the fourth over the past several weeks, targeted only pregnant women, children 6 months to 5 years, and caregivers of children 6 months or younger. For the children, the shot was the first of two. The second will be given Dec. 4.

      "I'm nervous I won't be able to get it," said Michele Benson, 34, of Delran who is pregnant with twins. "I took off a half a day to be here."

      Loretta O'Donnell, a Burlington County spokeswoman, said H1N1 clinics held for pregnant women and first-responders in October went smoothly. About 300 pregnant women were served.

      "We expected a lot of people, but we have residents of other counties here," said Burlington County Public Health Coordinator Robert Gogats. "We won't turn them away, but it's difficult when people come in from different parts of the state."

      As parents and children flowed through the doors of the health department building, Gogats asked one woman where she was from.

      "Lawrenceville," she said, which is in Mercer County.

      Because of the early arrivals, health officials started giving vaccinations about noon, Gogats said.

      "It's the better-safe-than-sorry mentality; that's why I'm here," said Steve Crosson, 36, of Marlton, as he pushed a stroller with his two children, 3-year-old Caden and 11-month-old Maura. "I don't know if this is worth it. I'm doing it for them. If it saves their lives."

      Deep in the line, Corinne Flake, 23, of Marlton, was waiting with her children, Natalee, 22 months, and Jacey, 3.

      "My pediatrician has a humongous waiting list," she said. "I figured this would be easier."

      "I hope they make an announcement to let us know if they have enough vaccine for all of us," Flake said. "This is scary."

      By 3:30, officials had started handing out pink vouchers, so those after the cutoff would have priority in future clinics.

      Gogats said today was the largest turnout for a clinic he had ever seen. He said he "anticipated a big problem," especially after Andres Mendez, a sophomore at Rancocas Valley Regional High School, died suddenly from the flu Oct. 24.

      The number of H1N1 deaths in New Jersey has risen to 20; in Pennsylvania, at least 19 people have died from the virus.

      "I think that residents realized that this is something to be concerned about," Gogats said.

      Next week, he said Burlington County may open clinics at multiple locations to smooth out the process.

      Paolo Trinchieri, 35, of Moorestown, said it was "just a hunch" that he should show up at 12:15 p.m.

      "It actually looked a lot worse pulling in. I saw lawn chairs, and that's never a good sign," he said.

      Just before 5, his 3-year-old daughter, Isabella, received a shot.

      One of those who was left holding a pink ticket was 40-year-old Gary Ell, whose 2-year-old daughter Sarah will have to come back despite arriving just after 1 p.m.

      "These poor babies were out in the cold, crying," he said. "It was an awful situation."

      Vishal Sherma's family failed to get vaccinated twice. His wife, pregnant with their second child, showed up around 1:30 p.m. but had to leave to go back to work.

      Then he arrived just before 4 p.m. with their 4-year-old son, Risshabh, only to realize after standing at the end of the line that the tickets were long gone.

      He'll have to wait at least another week to ensure his wife and son are safe.

      "Just hope nothing will happen," he said. "That's the only thing we can do."
      Twitter: @RonanKelly13
      The views expressed are mine alone and do not represent the views of my employer or any other person or organization.