FARMERS BRANCH, Texas – In Dallas County, a private clinic in Farmers Branch says it’s received more flu vaccine doses than the entire county public health system. So no one is being turned away.
The Texas Department of Health Services recently shipped about 12,000 doses of the swine flu vaccine to the Star Medical Group Clinic in Farmers Branch.
The clinic said it has been distributing the vaccine to at-risk patients, but those people don’t come alone.
People like Dane Blankenship can also get the vaccine.
Blankenship brought his son in to get vaccinated and then got the shot himself.
“They recommended he get it because he’s had pneumonia in the past, been hospitalized for it,” he said. “I went ahead and got one myself because they said they were offering them and there’s no screening. So, better safe than sorry, I guess.”
David Rogers, an asthmatic whose son has cerebral palsy, didn’t think twice.
“You know what? They’re offering it. I’m gonna get it,” he said.
But the situation has state and county’s public health officials asking questions.
The Dallas County public health clinic, which serves the uninsured, has been clamoring for more doses for weeks. It only began limited vaccinations Friday.
Director Zachary Thompson said his clinic doesn’t want to turn anyone away, but can only give the vaccine to at-risk patients at this time.
“If information is going that you’re open to the public without that caveat in there or without that specific language, then that is a concern,” he said.
A state Health Services representative said the agency isn’t sure it has the power to do anything. The state still urges providers of the vaccine to target higher-risk groups, the representative said.
Star Medical Group Clinic owner Jeff Vitt said the state did give him latitude to make the final choice on how to distribute the vaccine.
“We’re a society that is so integrated and co-mingled and interactive, that we’re all at risk for this,” he said.
Vitt’s expecting another 21,000 doses in the next couple of weeks and said the state won’t be restricting the distribution of that future supply.