Thank you for starting this thread, itsmejuli.
As a (retired) Public Health Nurse, I've been wondering how the health departments across the nation have been handling vaccination against H1N1. Each has been given the program to run as they choose.
The general attitude where I am, in CA has been varied, in regard to safety of the vaccine, need for it, and who needs it. There's a university and a college in the county where I live; and a "now you seem them, now you don't" community of counter culture folks left over from the '60s, homeless people and many drug addicts, as well as working people who commute with bigger cities.
When the first supply of vaccine dribbled in, I went to the local health department to offer my services in any capacity, as a volunteer. The person to whom I was referred, was the epidemiologist who said he was in charge of the program; and he was putting up a sign saying that the vaccine had run out, and no further clinics would have it, until the end of October. Then I read the CDC website, in which the stats showed a huge overage of vaccine, compared to the number of people who had gotten it.......
Since the epidemiologist told me that Maxim had been hired to give the vaccine, and I'd refused to work for them at the paltry wage they offered R.N.s I figured that there wasn't a need for my services. Well, today I went for my shot, as they'd opened their clinics to everyone, instead of only those at high risk. It was steadily raining, when I arrived a half hour after the clinic started, and a long line of about 200 individuals: bedraggled families with young children, seniors, 20 to 50 year olds, and pregnant women stood in silence, in a column that wound down a hill.
Since I have a handicapped sign on my car, I was ushered regally into a parking space as close to the main building as possible, and accompanied by a relay of yellow slicker clad young men, to the front of the line. That really embaressed me, as my disability isn't apparent and I would have preferred to wait my turn. The consideration of my unknown impairment stopped after I promptly got my shot (without being asked to sign permission for it), as the exit led to an outside area in the back of the complex, far from my car.
So I went back in and said that I'd prefer to go out the same way I'd come in. The same young man who had handed me over to the nurses was there, and the relay of escorts prepared to usher me back to my car. I stopped short of leaving outside the building when I realized that no written materials had been given those waiting, and after getting the vaccine a coloring book and "insurance information" were handed to children only.
Since I'd given information sheets to those waiting for seasonal flu vaccine in the previous clinics when I worked for Maxim, I asked if they had any and was told that only children got something written. Then I inquired whether written permission was necessary. No one appeared concerned when I said I hadn't been asked to sign anything, but the local Maxim manager (wearing his name tag 2 inches from his penis - I suggested that he move it to his collar) overheard the exchange and wanted me to tell him which nurse gave me the shot. That furthered my discomfort, as I didn't want to get her in trouble, so I said that I didn't remember.
He insisted on taking me to each nurse, arriving at the desk where I'd been, and I was shown a list of names (so much for HIPPA). I signed the list proffered and asked how they'd know which lot number was in the dose I'd received; and was shown that each list had a lot # at the bottom of it.
It seems to me that a great opportunity to do some public health teaching was ignored. There was no informaton given about side effects of the vaccine or contraindications; and especially, that it would take 3 weeks before immunity would be attained...... with a few exceptions. Emphasis was placed on getting people through as fast as possible (200/hour, I was told), and providing forms regarding children's insurance (although parents weren't told about that, just the children were given the packet).