Coast People Line Up For Scarce Flu Shots - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

10/13/04

Coast People Line Up For Scarce Flu Shots

Because America's flu shot supply has been cut in half, the FDA admits it is scrambling to find enough of the vaccine for patients who need it the most.

On Wednesday, some of those high risk people went grocery shopping in Long Beach. The only items they bought were $20 flu shots and $35 pneumonia shots.

Jay Pottlitzer headed up the company that distributed the flu shots. He constantly walked around the store and calmed nerves.

"We do have enough vaccine," he told a group of people who had already spent two hours in line. "I just did a count. And you guys all get your shots today."

Joy Tucei was in that line. The Biloxi woman drove over to Long Beach specifically to get a shot.

"I don't want the flu," she said. "That's why I'm in line with how many hundreds of people?"

Probably 400 people. And they all had to wind their way through a maze inside the Long Beach Sav A Center.

Ed Harding made it through the produce section of the maze earlier than most.

"I was surprised when I turned the corner and had to go around the sweet potatoes," he laughed.

Around the sweet potatoes, and past the salad bar. The line veered right at a produce scale, and then made one final right turn at the honey dew, before the last straight away to the flu shot table.

"There was a lady having a real hard time getting to the celery through our line awhile ago," Tucei remembered. "But we helped her find it."

Despite waiting upwards of three hours to get through, people from all over Mississippi patiently stood or sat in line to get a flu vaccine from Maxim Healthcare Services before supplies disappeared.

Jan Venator came from Diamondhead, "Because I can't take a chance to have flu. I'm having eye surgery."

Eighty one year old Ed Harding had ski slopes on his mind while he waited for his flu shot.

"March of next year I'm going skiing," he said. "So I don't want to get the flu, I want to go skiing."

Because of the flu shot shortage, this was the last clinic offered by Jay Pottlitzer's company.

"It's been a lot different. It's very hectic," Pottlitzer said.

How hectic? Forty people got shots last year. Ten times that number crammed into the grocery store this time.

Federal officials say the scare remaining flu shots are being sent to pediatricians, nursing homes, and places that care for patients who need them the most.

by Brad Kessie

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