The Columbia County Health Department ran out of the flu vaccine about sunrise Friday morning and doesn't expect to get any more this season.
"We've heard there is not a worldwide shortage, but our manufacturer is out," said Phyllis Roland, the Columbia County Health Department's facility administrator. "There is still a lot of high risk individuals who need it."
The Richmond County Health Department ran out of the vaccine shots Dec. 9.
Columbia County's Health Department injected its last 29 shots Friday morning. With the nationwide shortage of the vaccine and an announcement that the clinic had the few remaining doses, people began lining up at the department's Evans office at 5 a.m.
When she arrived to work at 6:45 a.m. what Roland saw was reminiscent of a Grateful Dead concert ticket line.
"The people were wonderful," she said. "They started at 5 a.m. with their fold-out chairs, some had lap-tops, newspapers. They started their own sign-in sheet as they arrived, and when we got here at 6:45 a.m., they had our 29 names listed. So we just handed them a number, let them in the door and put a sign on the door, 'No more flu vaccine.' It was very orderly."
One woman, Roland said, woke up at 3 a.m. to drive from Lincoln County, and another drove from Waynesboro.
Dave Deckert arrived at 6:30 a.m. and got the last of the highly-coveted 29 flu shots available.
"We called everywhere in Columbia County, and they were out everywhere," Deckert said. "I haven't had a flu shot since I was in the service, but I've been watching the news and the outbreak, so that's the main reason I wanted to get one."
Myron Fowler and his sons Todd, 6, and Hinson, 4, arrived at 5:45 a.m. and got their shots.
"There were some people already here ahead of me," said Fowler, who bribed the boys with bubble gum to get through the experience without crying. "You watch the news and hear about the severity of cases and deaths - kids especially. I really did it for the kids."
Columbia County Sheriff's Office deputies Sean Clack and Thomas Harper arrived at 7 a.m. and were patrolling the parking lot of the health department turning people away. Tricia McDuffie was shocked when she pulled her car into the parking lot at 8 a.m. and was told the vaccines were gone.
"Are you serious?" she asked.
She said she does not usually get a flu shot but decided she wanted one this year after seeing news reports about the outbreak's severity nationwide, which has caused at least 23 deaths in the West.
"I'm over 50, so I thought, 'Maybe I better go do it,"' McDuffie said. "My doctor is out, so I guess I'll keep on looking."
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