Unexpected flu shot turnout at Boynton

About 2,000 people received flu shots Wednesday, doubling Boynton’s expectations.

by Jessica Van Berkel

University of Minnesota students, staff and faculty waiting to receive a free flu shot at Boynton Health Service stood in line for up to an hour Wednesday. The number of people wanting a flu shot was double the clinicâÄôs expectations as the service debuted for the year. About 2,000 people received a shot on the first day, and the lines inside Boynton queued through the waiting room into the staff lunch area. About 120 students were waiting in line at any given time, Dave Golden, director of public health at Boynton, said. Some students arrived before the clinic even opened, forming a line outside Boynton before 8 a.m., said community health coordinator Julia Sanem . âÄúIt has never been this busy for a walk-in clinic,âÄù she said. Psychology sophomore Alex Schwegman was one of the students to get his flu shot. He said when he went last year he waited 15 minutes, but this year he waited 40 minutes. âÄúI think it was worth the wait,âÄù he said. The large numbers are believed to be a result of increased awareness of the flu. With âÄúall the attention H1N1 has been getting, people are more primed for it,âÄù Maria Rudie, an associate program director at Boynton , said. The flu shot does not prevent H1N1 influenza, but people are paying closer attention to health recommendations, she said. âÄúIâÄôve never been to get a flu shot but now especially with the H1N1 flu, I think this is important,âÄù said Catherine OâÄôConnor, a first-year law school student. Twelve nurses, double the amount from last year, were administering the shots and 10 resident hall health advocates volunteered. The nurses had to take a break in the early afternoon, which led to a longer wait for some students, Golden said. The number of nurses will increase next Wednesday when flu shots will be available for the second time. Golden said the Boynton staff will debrief to figure out how to add more space and staff. âÄúWeâÄôve maxed out on our space and people; weâÄôre just going to keep going,âÄù he said. Flu shots will continue to be offered at Boynton every Wednesday for the next three weeks, and then as long as the supply lasts. âÄúWeâÄôll have to get our hands on some more vaccine,âÄù Golden said. The lines at Boynton will die down as the season progresses, returning to the average daily total of 600-700 flu shots, Rudie said. The number of people was surprising because flu shots are being administered a month earlier than they have been in the past and because the health department hasnâÄôt reported any cases of seasonal flu yet, Golden said. âÄúLots of folks are used to doing it in October and [we thought] they would do it then,âÄù he said. âÄúBut obviously people were ready to get a flu shot.âÄù The Centers for Disease Control and Minnesota Department of Health have been advocating a much earlier vaccination deadline this year. Golden said yesterday was the first time Boynton provided flu shots this early. The clinic had extra vaccines stored and decided âÄúletâÄôs go, letâÄôs see what happens,âÄù Golden said. âÄúIt totally exceeded our expectations,âÄù Rudie said. âÄúIt was all day long, it was just amazing.âÄù Golden said.