Vaccine runs out at Snohomish Co. flu clinics

Vaccine runs out at Snohomish Co. flu clinics »Play Video
A long line of people waits for swine flu shots Saturday morning outside Stevens Hospital in Edmonds, one of 10 free flu shot clinics on Snohomish County.
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. - Thousands of people from as far away as Canada jammed Snohomish County clinics to get free swine flu shots Saturday, and within 2 1/2 hours there was only enough vaccine left for people already in line.

Long lines of people formed outside all 10 Snohomish County flu clinics for the free shots early Saturday, creating hours-long waits and nightmarish traffic backups.

 A long line of cars waits outside a drive-in swine flu vaccine clinic in Stanwood.
Five thousand cars were backed up at a drive-through clinic in Stanwood at 9:30 a.m., said the Washington State Patrol. And a clinic in Monroe said there was a five-hour wait for the vaccine there at one point.

In Edmonds, 3,000 people wound around the building, waiting for a chance to get the vaccine.

By 10:15 a.m., more than 28,000 doses of vaccine had either been distributed or were allotted to those standing in line, said Snohomish County spokesman Christopher Schwarzen.

Those not already in line by then were instructed to go back home and contact their local doctor for the H1N1 vaccine.

"We anticipated high demand and suspected lines could get long. This morning, it became clear it wouldn’t take long to distribute the vaccine," said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, director and health officer of the Snohomish Health District.

"Our goal has always been to get the vaccine out quickly to people at highest risk. We prepared for this and now must wait until new shipments of vaccine arrive in Snohomish County," he added.

Schwarzen said people began lining up as early as 3 a.m. for the vaccines in Everett, and some clinics opened early to accommodate them.

He said the flu shots were available to everyone as long as supplies lasted - whether or not they live in Snohomish County - and that some people had driven all the way from Canada to get the shots.

Snohomish County's allotment of 28,000 vaccine doses were made available for the highest-risk groups, which include pregnant women, young people age 24 and below, family members of infants, people with underlying medical conditions, teachers, child care workers, health care workers and emergency personnel.

The clinics were located at Mill Creek, Stanwood, Everett (two locations), Marysville, Monroe, Arlington, Edmonds, Tulalip and Snohomish.