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Skid Row: Homeless line up for H1N1 shot

November 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
The homeless lined up Thursday to receive an H1N1 shot on Skid Row in Los Angeles.In a part of town where crime and homelessness are all too apparent, volunteers are administering a life-saving vaccine that's in high demand all over the country.

"It's rare that we have somebody willing to help the people who are less fortunate than anyone else," said Joe Salinas. "It's a good thing they brought it here. That's why I took advantage of it."

Joe Salinas, recently lost his job. He says living in close quarters in a homeless shelter makes him quite nervous about the H1N1 virus.

"Everyone living on Skid Row needs protection," said Salinas.

"If you look at the high risk groups certainly most of the people on Skid Row would qualify," said Dr. Jonathan Fielding from the L.A. County Department of Health.

While many groups want to see more clinics in areas of L.A. County where more children live, Fielding says the agency is trying to reach out to as many communities as possible.

High risk groups remain a priority especially since the CDC announced vaccine supplies overall may fall far short of original projections.

"We continue to have this problem of inadequate supply and shortages based on projects and that makes people increasingly concerned," said Fielding. But there is more vaccine coming every week."

Health officials in other states say that may not be fast enough.

"Unfortunately the consequences of not having enough vaccine soon enough is we're going to have people who are going to get sick and some will die," said Dr. Michael Osterholm from the University of Minnesota.

Lines on Skid Row moved quickly.

"When I saw that there was something here I inquired and it was quick," said domestic abuse survivor Jennifer Woods. "I was quite thrilled to get it."

Woods, 47, couldn't believe she got the shot.

"That's one of the nice thing about being in America is that we have programs like this that can help us," said Woods.

So far L.A. County says they've received about 810,000 doses of the H1N1 virus. Most of those supplies have been allocated to private doctors, hospitals and clinics.


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