Elderly question flu shot controls

George Anter knows he has a lot to be thankful for during the holidays.

The heart he received during a transplant procedure 12 years ago, for which he gives thanks every day, continues to do its job.

He has won bouts with prostate and skin cancer, and his non-Hodgkins lymphoma remains under control with chemotherapy.

His four children and four grandchildren are thriving in their careers and in school.

And in December, Anter and his wife, Madeline, will celebrate their 53rd wedding anniversary.

But as grateful as he is, the 74-year-old Anter admits one thing will be bugging him during the holidays.

“The truth is,” the retired paper sales executive said last week, “when I think about not being able to get a swine flu shot, I get real pissed off.”

Two months after H1N1 flu vaccine was first distributed to public health districts around the country, people 65 and older with serious medical conditions still can’t get vaccinated.

Anter’s doctors at Stanford University Hospital, where he received his transplant, tell him he has a compromised immune system and “the H1N1 flu could do me in.”

He takes at least nine prescription medications daily to stay alive.

“But when I try to get a shot, I’m told I’m too old ” he said as he sat in the study of his Peccole Ranch home.

“I feel that they see me and other older people as garbage and are just waiting for the trucks to come pick us up,” Anter said.

“I served my country. I enlisted during the Korean War. You don’t treat people this way just because they’re older.”

The priority groups for the vaccine, which public health officials say is still in short supply, remain pregnant women; people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months; health care and emergency first responders; persons between 6 months and 24 years of age; and adults up to 64 with chronic health conditions.

The evidence has shown that, as a group, seniors need the vaccine less than younger age groups, according to Dr. Anthony Fiore with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And when there is a vaccine shortage, he said, you must prioritize.

Public health authorities admit they have been inundated with calls from the elderly who want to know when they can receive vaccinations.

Many seniors have called the Review-Journal to complain. Some refrain from giving their names because they fear their complaints could cause their Social Security benefits to be cut off.

No one knows when the system will change.

“We are working collaboratively with the Nevada State Health Division and other local health authorities in the state to determine if the state is in the position to expand vaccine availability,” Stephanie Bethel, a health district spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Mary Ann Sokol, a 79-year-old cancer and heart attack survivor profiled by the Review-Journal in August after the priority groups were announced, said last week she and her husband no longer go out to dinner for fear her compromised immune system won’t be able to fight off the H1N1 virus.

“I have to admit I’m sometimes really scared,” she said. “When I feel that way, I always wear a mask when I go out.”

When public health officials realized last August that the vaccine would be in short supply this fall, they studied the 44,000 cases of the virus that had been reported to the CDC since the outbreak began in April.

Seniors were affected the least, Fiore said. It appeared that older people have a pre-existing immunity to the H1N1 virus.

CDC researchers suggested that the immunity older adults appear to enjoy was built up either because they were infected with or vaccinated against an older seasonal flu strain that closely resembled H1N1.

Americans up to 24 years of age are about 20 times more likely to contract the virus than people older than 65.

People ranging in age from 25 to 49 are five times more likely to be hit by the virus than seniors.

And men and women in the 50 to 64 age bracket have a three times greater chance of catching the virus than those older than 65.

Anter is familiar with the statistics. But he says many seniors have underlying medical conditions that render their immune systems defenseless.

“You’ve got to make exceptions for people with very serious health conditions,” he said.

Exceptions aren’t favored by public health officials, however, including those with the health district who have repeatedly said that this would slow down the process of trying to contain the outbreak.

And private physicians who have enrolled in the H1N1 vaccine provider program aren’t supposed to bypass public health regulations. They sign documents saying they will abide by the program’s designated priorities if given vaccine to distribute.

The health district had stockpiled thousands of doses of vaccine while claiming there wasn’t enough vaccine to vaccinate those between the ages of 25 and 64 with chronic health conditions.

Then, earlier this month, state health officials forced the health district to start vaccinating that group.

The district still has nearly 50,000 doses of vaccine on hand, as of Wednesday.

“Why not give it to those who need it?” Anter said. “They’ve given clinic after clinic to those they said were in priority groups, and they still have it left over.”

Martha Framsted, a state health division spokeswoman, has said public health officials are continually reviewing the situation to see when vaccinations can be made available to more Nevadans.

“We want to give it to everybody,” she said.

But Anter doesn’t see any sense of urgency.

“When you get as old as I am, they see you as a big zero,” he said. “They don’t really care if we die.”

Contact reporter Paul Harasim at pharasim@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2908.

Officer-involved shooting in Nye County
The Nye County Sheriff's Office gives information about a shooting in Pahrump on Thursday night after a man began firing shots outside of his home. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Law Enforcement Active Shooter Training Exercise
Multiple Las Vegas Valley law enforcement agencies held an active shooter drill at the Department of Public Safety’s Parole and Probation office on December 6, 2018. Officials set up the training exercise to include multiple active shooters, a barricaded suspect and multiple casualties. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Public memorial service for Jerry Herbst
Archiving effort hits milestone at Clark County Museum
The Clark County Museum catalogs the final item from the bulk of Route 91 Harvest festival artifacts. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Final Route 91 Harvest festival remembrance objects catalogued at Clark County Museum
The last of the more than 17,000 items left at the makeshift memorial near the Las Vegas sign after the Oct. 1 shootings have been catalogued at the Clark County Museum in Las Vegas. The final item was a black-and-white bumper sticker bearing "#VEGASSTRONG. An additional 200 items currently on display at the museum will be catalogued when the exhibit comes down. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dozier execution timeline
Scott Dozier was set to be executed July 11, 2018, at the Ely State Prison. Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez delayed the execution.
Grand Jury Indicts Constable for theft
A Clark County grand jury indicted Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. A Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation prompted the criminal probe. The newspaper found Mitchell wrote himself thousands in checks, took out cash at ATMs and traveled on county funds. He faces four felony counts of theft and a county of public misconduct. Mitchell and his attorney could not be reached for comment.
93-year-old WWII veteran arrested during visit to VA hospital
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, 93, a World War II veteran, talks about his arrest during his visit to VA hospital on Friday, Nov. 30. (Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco_
Pearl Harbor survivor struggles in her senior years
Winifred Kamen, 77, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor as an infant, works a 100 percent commission telemarketing job to make ends meet. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Metropolitan Briefing 18th street gang
Las Vegas Metropolitan briefs the media on the recent arrests made regarding the 18th street gang.
Man shot in Las Vegas traffic stop had knife, police say
Police said the man fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop in downtown Las Vegas had a “homemade knife.” Demontry Floytra Boyd, 43, died Saturday at University Medical Center from multiple gunshot wounds after officer Paul Bruning, 48, shot him during a traffic stop. Bruning pulled Boyd over on suspicion of driving recklessly at 7:41 a.m. near Sunrise Avenue and 18th Street.
Catahoula dogs rescued from home in Moapa Valley
Catahoula dogs were brought to The Animal Foundation after being rescued from home in Moapa Valley.
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses in California wildfire
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses she suffered in California's Woolsey Fire in Malibu in November. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benefit dinner for Kerry Clasby, the Intuitive Forager
Sonia El-Nawal of Rooster Boy Cafe in Las Vegas talks about having a benefit for Kerry Clasby, known as the Intuitive Forager, who suffered losses on her farm in California’s Woolsey Fire in Malibu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former President George H.W. Bush dies at 94
Former President George H.W. Bush has died at the age of 94. He died Friday night in Houston, about eight months after the death of his wife, Barbara.
Las Vegans Celebrate Big Snowfall
Las Vegans celebrate big snowfall at Lee Canyon.
Exploring old mines for denim jeans and other vintage items
Caden Gould of Genoa, Nev. talks about his experiences looking for vintage denim jeans and other items in old mines and other places areas across Nevada and the west.
Officers share photo of dead gunman after Las Vegas shooting
A little over an hour after SWAT officers entered Stephen Paddock's suite at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas police officers far from the scene were already sharing cell phone photos of the dead Oct. 1 gunman.
Frontier jet safely returns to Las Vegas after losing engine piece
Frontier jet safely returns to Las Vegas after losing engine piece. (@FlightAlerts_)
Park Service plans ahead for lower lake levels
National Park Service releases new plans to maintain access to the water as Lake Mead continues to shrink.
Women claim abuse at Florence McClure Women's Correctional Facility
Current and ex-inmates, including Merry West, are suing Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Facility, claiming abuse and inadequate medical care. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Butte County Sheriff's Office Body Cam Footage
Bodycam video from Butte County (Calif.) Sheriff's Office Deputy Aaron Parmley, who was in Paradise November 8 helping with evacuations. (Butte County Sheriff's Office)
NDOT construction blasting along State Route 106
NDOT construction blasting along State Route 160, near Mt. Potosi Road, in Clark County as part of a $59 million, 6-mile-long highway widening project that began this summer. (Nevada Department of Transportation)
Car crashes into Papa Murphy's Pizza shop
A driver crashed a car into a western Las Vegas Valley pizza shop on Tuesday morning, police said. (Joe Stanhibel/Special to Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Low-lake-level pumping station nears completion
Barnard Construction and the Southern Nevada Water Authority give one last tour before the new low-lake-level pumping station is activated.
Trailer: Valley of Fires
Sultan’s Playroom from Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada
Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada’s Scott Rosenzweig talks about granting Sultan Bouras Souissi’s wish, and what went into building it. (John Hornberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jim Marsh brings historic replica of rural church to Amargosa Valley
Jim Marsh talks during the opening of the Chapel at Longstreet, a replica of an 1874 Catholic church built in the mining town of Belmont, Nev., at Marsh's Longstreet Casino in Amargosa Valley, Nev. Chase Stevens/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas Livestock recycling Strip food waste
Las Vegas Livestock collects and recycles food from many Las Vegas Strip companies. (Nicole Raz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like