Free H1N1Vaccinations Lead to Long Lines, Parking Congestion at Santa Monica College

Last Wednesday, H1N1 (better known as Swine Flu) vaccines were administered at no charge to the public on campus at Santa Monica College.

Lines began forming as early as 6:30 a.m. and many were turned down as the day progressed and supplies ran short.

As the supply of H1N1 shots dwindled, word spread quickly, and the waiting crowd grew testy. "That's not fair," a mother in the line shouted as a pregnant woman was ushered to the front of the line.

Many people seemed oblivious to the guidelines as to who took precedence in immunization. Pregnant women, the elderly, and school-aged children seemed most affected by the virus, and thus it was deemed they should be the first to receive the short supply of the H1N1 vaccine.

It seemed puzzling to many that the shots and mist treatment weren't administered at a facility that was more capable of hosting such large numbers. "I don't know why they didn't do this at the [Santa Monica] Civic Center," said a staff member who wished to remain anonymous.

Free flu shots will continue to be given around Los Angeles, but they can also be administered by a family practitioner or by any doctor. The U.S. government has capped the fee that doctors may charge any patient at $25.

The reason for the huge turnout at SMC last week was due to a shortage in supply of the H1N1 shots at regular hospital locations in conjunction with the overly zealous and concerned, mostly protective parents not wanting to see their children catch sickness.

Veronique Jackson came with her son and daughter so they might have a chance to immunize themselves before the H1N1 virus struck their home. "We aren't sure if the shot will work. It's very controversial in France, but we want to cover all possibilities. We've been here since 8 a.m. this morning," she said. She was still in line at 1 p.m. hopeful that her children might receive immunization despite pending rumors (at the time) that the booster shots ran low in supply.

Gloria Lopez of the SMC Health center, who was said to be on-site of the immunization locale, could not be reached before Corsair deadline.