Thu, Aug. 22

Surviving the great flu shot clinic of 2004

Yavapai County Heath Department made flu shots available Nov. 6.

Knowing the lines could be long, I got up early, completed my chores, and got over to the county buildings to be one of the first in line.

No, not even close.

By 7:25 a.m., the line reaches out of the front lobby around and past the county Juvenile Probation entrance, around another building corner, down steps into the parking lot at the corner of Mingus Avenue and Sixth Street.

The line then serpentines through the parking lot like a giant human snake to the point where I then join it. Others are now quickly filling in behind me. The line continues to grow and by 8 a.m. it has grown past our view. Later I discovered that the line went down Mingus past the old fire station ending almost at the corner of Mingus and Willard.

County Health Department personnel and volunteers realized they had situation that needed immediate attention. You have individuals that have no business standing in long lines in the morning cold. Individuals that should not stand were standing. Individuals that should not walk on uneven ground were navigating the slopes, curbs and steps there with their walkers and wheelchairs.

Shortly after arriving I noticed a gentleman unable to maneuver the parking lot curb. He fell. As we helped the gentleman up and stood him against a car, what a dismal outlook we had.

However, that was not what happened. Volunteers with loud speakers informed us of the process before they came and pre-approved applicants in the line telling us that if you had a paper you would get a shot. A lady who had brought a chair and was not using it allowed a gentleman to use her chair.

Even though more than a hundred were in line behind us we adopted the gentleman and took responsibility for him. No one from behind voiced a discouraging word about the interloper cutting into line. Every time we moved the gentleman forward he remarked, "That nice lady needs her chair, I can stand." But he could not have stood for 10 minutes.

During the course of the morning others around us also began to falter and the county brought out chairs, water for individuals to take vital medication, crackers that someone had and the cookies that had been brought in for their nourishment. One at a time we moved several individuals from around us forward to chairs by the front entrance. We told them we would pick them up when the line got to them. This was not just in our group but it was happening all throughout the lines. People, when given the chance, demonstrate great care for one another.

Thoughtout my five and half hours of waiting, I never heard a discouraging word. I saw people help people they did not know, just because others needed help and they were able to provide that assistance. I am sure the county learned a lesson and will not let it happen again. They will plan better. The disaster potential was there. The grouchy old timers in the Verde Valley came through and did not let a bad situation get the best of us. We survived the great flu shot clinic of 2005.

Walt Good is a Cottonwood resident and Yavapai College employee.

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