Pajamadeen Finally Gets Stuck

November 25, 2009

The Hunt for an H1N1 Flu Shot, Which Took Seven WeeksNo, not with a bill, or in a pothole or in a traffic jam. I’ve found the Holy Grail an H1N1 flu shot. It took seven weeks. As someone who’s had bronchitis since age 12 and who’s had pneumonia several times, I don’t mess around with respiratory illnesses. I thought both the seasonal flu shot and the H1N1 shot might be hard to find this year. But when I set out on October 1 to get a seasonal flu shot at an Elizabethtown, KY clinic, signs were up everywhere offering the flu shot. One was at a pharmacy here in Tiny Town. Another digital sign at a bank flashed the news that a flu clinic was being held just down the road, at the agricultural extension office. I went there and found only one person in line ahead of me. Bonus! A nurse named Julie Percefull — someone I particularly admire — was giving the shots. So, thanks to Julie and the LaRue County Health Department, and $23.00 later, I had my shot.

I had a surprise when I reached Elizabethtown to go grocery shopping. (Mostly, I try to shop Tiny Town. But the two grocery stores. . .Think 30 years ago. Anything remotely unusual is not to be had. Want fresh spinach? Out of luck. Tofu? What’s that? Balsamic vinegar? Never heard of it. Never mind our adventures with wasabi and walnut oil. How come we can have cutting-edge digital signs in Tiny Town but not fresh spinach?) Seasonal flu shot shortage? More signs than I’d ever seen offering flu shots were plastered everywhere — at Walgreens. At more banks. At Kroger’s. At Walmart. No shortage here.

Finding an H1N1 Flu Shot ClinicThings were different when it came to H1N1, though. There’s one doctor’s office in LaRue County. Yes, that’s right — one. I called there twice, learning that they were getting very small batches of the H1N1 vaccine and, basically, the Lincoln Trail District Health Department was telling them who could — and could not — receive the shot when it comes to at-risk populations. I was put on their waiting list and continued my search. Google maps, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services, created a flu shot finder. Type in an address and (theoretically) the map would find a location that had H1N1 or seasonal flu shots available. One promising listing a couple of weeks ago was for a mass inoculation drive-through clinic at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium at the University of Louisville, on a Wednesday and a Thursday. Wednesday was chaos: Some people waited in line up to 13 hours. It was anticipated that all the vaccine would be gone by 1 pm on Thursday. A 13-hour wait sounded…intimidating. And exhausting.

As late as today, typing in Hodgenville, KY in the Google flu shot finder produced this result: “No flu shots found near Hodgenville, Kentucky.” You can find supplementary results at the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Google’s flu shot map did indicate that the Lake Cumberland District Health Department offices in Greensburg and Campbellsville would be giving H1N1 vaccinations from 5 pm to 8 pm., starting on December 3.

While I have some risk factors, I also need to visit my elderly mother in a nursing home out-of-state and in a heavily populated metropolitan area. As much as I don’t want to give the frail residents the flu, I also don’t want to contract it from them. Finally, I prevailed at the LaRue County Health Department and got the shot last Friday. I’m laying low, in hopes of not contracting anything before eight days elapse and I’m immunized against H1N1. It looks like I’ll get to see my mother before Christmas after all. And that’s something to be grateful for, this Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Read about Gene Simmons and the rock band KISS, and see if you can figure out what Pajamadeen will be doing later tonight.

Copyright © 2009