H1N1 shots draw two more crowds

Best friends Ricki Greenspon and Harriet Smylie spent a good portion of their Saturday afternoon in line waiting to receive the H1N1 vaccine.

The wait at Centennial High School, where Greenspon and Smylie got vaccinated, at times lasted about two hours. The women, who wouldn't divulge their exact ages, were with a large number of other adults who were among an expanded pool of people eligible for the vaccine Saturday, the first day the Southern Nevada Health District made it available to any adult under 64 with a pre-existing medical condition.

Greenspon said she had no problem waiting it out with Smylie.

"We're catching up on gossip from the whole week," Greenspon said.

Centennial, in northwest Las Vegas, and Foothill High School in Henderson, held clinics between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Last week, health district officials said they were going to wait until the clinics were over before assessing any plans to reallocate vaccines to private providers in Clark County. As of Tuesday the district had between 35,000 and 38,000 doses.

The district had been criticized by state health officials for its distribution policies. State Health Division spokeswoman Martha Framsted said redistribution would occur if a significant number of doses were left after Saturday's clinics.

With the new group of eligible people, local officials expected a high demand, made more staff available and moved the clinics into larger staging areas.

Stephanie Bethel, a spokeswoman with the health district, said the lines at Centennial held steady all day.

On Saturday, 3,800 doses were given at Centennial, 2,850 at Foothill. That total is about the same as given out the previous Saturday at two clinics. On Thursday and Friday, about 1,000 doses were administered each day.

Bethel said Saturday the district would evaluate the demand at Saturday's clinics and "make plans for additional clinics as well as recommendations for private providers."

In the line, Greenspon and Smylie said they have much in common. They both work as health care providers. Greenspon is an office manager at an OB-GYN clinic, and Smylie works as a dental hygienist. As such, both were eligible for the vaccine when the health district first offered it last month, but they held out because of initial reservations. Both are diabetic as well.

"Can't you tell, we're twins," Smylie said, laughing.

Smylie said she was in her 60s. Then Greenspon scolded her friend and said she wouldn't divulge her age.

But unlike the friends, not all adults standing in line at Centennial procrastinated in getting vaccinated.

Joyce Reed-Chapman, who said she also is diabetic, said she has been waiting for at least a month to receive the vaccine. The 55-year-old said she became concerned about the dangers of H1N1 when one of her friends lost a friend to the virus.

Bethel said some of the medical conditions that would allow adults to get vaccinated included asthma, diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease.

Bethel conceded the health district had no way of determining whether people were being honest about the medical conditions they said they had.

"We're going by the honor system," Bethel said. "We're hoping that people (who aren't eligible) will not take vaccines away from others."

Contact reporter Antonio Planas at aplanas@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638.