Rush for flu shots slows to a trickle
By Jeff Hansel
At 9 a.m. Monday, Duane Bell, 76, was last in line behind about 400 people waiting for flu shots.
Monday's vaccination clinic was offered by Olmsted County Public Health Services and Homeland Health Specialties of the Twin Cities. Homeland normally gives shots at businesses, but state health officials asked the company to instead supply public-health agencies this year because only people at high risk of complications from influenza are supposed to get shots.
Kenny Ferris of Rochester got to the Heintz Center at 5:45 a.m. and was the first person in line.
"With my health, I wanted to make sure I did get the flu shot, because it's very important," he said.
But, in the end, showing up early wasn't necessary. By 10:30 a.m., the line was mostly gone and newcomers slowed to a trickle. There were 1,200 doses on hand for 850 people who sought vaccinations. Remaining doses will be redistributed to other Minnesota communities.
Clare Lawler, 99, who lives north of Chester in rural Eyota, knows why a flu shot is important.
"I don't want to get the flu," he said. Lawler's aunt died in the great influenza epidemic of 1918.
"I never knew that," said Lawler's son Jerome, 66, who also got a shot Monday.
"A lot of people died from it," Lawler said.
About 30 public-health workers, returning retirees and volunteers were on hand to help.
People were funneled through well-organized lines, checked to be sure they were at high-risk of complications and helped to fill out forms.
Etrheim said Cub Foods Pharmacy and Rochester Meats offered their vaccine for use with people at high risk of complications.
"If there is a business out there that ordered vaccine on their own for their employees, we would encourage them to call us," she said.
Health officials are working on the possibility of additional clinics. For updates, call 285-8530.
A version of this article appeared in some of Monday's editions.