Experiences at H1N1 Vaccine Clinic at EMU Convocation Center

Yesterday Washtenaw County held a vaccine clinic at Eastern Michigan University’s Convocation Center starting at 10a. This event was a mass improvement over last week’s attempt at Washtenaw Intermediate School District. Last week’s clinic was scheduled from 3-9p. My daughter and I had arrived after preschool at 3:45p and the clinic already had a sign out at the road stating that it was closed. Fortunately we had driven by the entrance looking for street parking before getting out of our car.

My daughter and I arrived to the parking lot at 9:57a for a 10a start time for the clinic. We quickly received wristbands to return at noon and were back in the car by 10:09. There was ample parking available, unlike at WISD. I thought the wristband was a great idea to limit the wait time in line. However, I was surprised that the line for those with wristbands was outside. I had brought a bag of activities for my daughter, but realized that she would have no way to do them while standing in line.

We went home and got our wagon for her to sit in to do her activities. We also stopped at McDonalds and bought lunch to bring with us. We arrived back at the clinic at 11:45 and was able to get in the line. After a few minutes in the line, a staff person told us that there was still a few hour wait inside. We waited outside for about 20 minutes, finally entering the building at 12:05. In that time, we saw my neighbor leaving the clinic. She had arrived before 9a and had just finished. At this time, I also discovered that they were still giving away wristbands for the noon slot.

Once we entered the building, the line basically wrapped around the entire main concourse surrounding the basketball court. At this point we were inside, but still standing and waited for 2 hours. On the positive side, we were inside and there was bathroom access at several locations if someone would save your spot in line. I asked the family two behind me in line to pull my daughter’s wagon while I took her to the bathroom.

As we approached the end of the line we were given a clipboard with the paperwork. There was one sheet to fill out for each person receiving the vaccine. This was actually the bottleneck. Since only my daughter was in the high risk category, I only had one form to fill out and was able to skip past those in front of me who were filling out multiple copies of the form (and I barely finished it by the time I got to the front of the line with my daughter pulling her own wagon). For example, the lady behind me had two daughters under the age of 5 and was pregnant, so she had 3 copies of the form to fill out.


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Then we gave our form to someone to review for completion and legibility. Then we went to medical screening where they gave us the vaccine information sheet and had us select the nasal mist or the injection. Then, we went to a nurse for administering of the shot. Finally, we were asked to remain for 10 minutes to check for any reaction.

While this was much better run than the previous clinic, there were still things that I felt could be improved.

  • Wristbands: I am not entirely clear what the full purpose of the wristbands were if I still waited 2.5 hours. I feel like they handed out too many wristbands for certain times. I would have much rather received a wristband for a later time and had a shorter wait. I received absolutely no benefit to arriving at 10 to get a wristband since the same ones were still being given out at noon. 
  • Paperwork/Information: I think the paperwork could have been given out with the wristbands to allow people more time to complete the forms while in line or at home. Also, I already knew that we wanted the shot and not the nasal mist, but others I talked to did not feel they had the differences between the two explained to them adequately. By providing the information sheets with the wristband, people would have time to review the sheets prior to reaching the front of the line. The only reason I knew that both the nasal mist and the injectable were available was that I saw a friend who was leaving and told me about both options.
  • Facility Usage: From my observation, about 75% of the groups in line included at least one child under the age of 5. Many of us had strollers or wagons, but even so it is hard to keep a child contained and occupied for 2 hours. There were also pregnant women and a few elderly for whom standing in line on concrete for 2 hours can be a physical strain. We were lined up around the perimeter of a basketball stadium that seats at least 7,500. It would have been great if they could have used the existing seating filling one section at a time and then pulling the sections in order. That way we could have been seated and the kids could have had some flexibility to roam the aisles or even potentially putting out some play equipment on the basketball court for them.
  • Communication: Finally, last night I found out that several doctors offices in the area have started to receive the H1N1 vaccine. The initial information that I heard was that only the county was going to have the vaccine. I would have much preferred to go to my daughter’s pediatrician than waiting in the line. I am hopeful that her pediatrician will have the vaccine when it comes time for her second dose and that we do not have to go through this process again.

I hope in writing this that the feedback I am providing will help the health department if they have to schedule a future mass vaccination clinic.

Were you at the H1N1 Clinic? What was your experience? Do you have any suggestions for improvements

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