U.S. residents flock to get flu shots at British Columbia clinic

Posted: Tuesday, November 16, 2004

OSOYOOS, British Columbia (AP) Hundreds of people drove across the Canadian border to take advantage of a special flu vaccine clinic for U.S. citizens.

The Travel Medicine & Vaccination Center of Vancouver sent three nurses and 500 doses of flu vaccine to the Osoyoos Senior Center, a five-mile drive from Oroville, Wash., for the two-day clinic that began Friday.

A long line of mostly elderly shot-seekers greeted workers Friday morning. Nurse manager Diane Loewen said 250 shots were quickly administered, only a handful to Canadians.

Loewen opened an hour early when she saw the line at 9 a.m. Sixty people were waiting in the chilly but sunny weather by 9:20 a.m., but the line was moving quickly.

''It's been wonderful,'' Loewen said. ''The Americans have been so grateful and pleasant. What I'm saying to everyone is, 'There is no border. As nurses and doctors, we just want everyone to be healthy.'''

Clinic manager Ray Christopherson said the charge was $25 a shot.

''We're happy to help out,'' Christopherson said. ''From my perspective, if they can't get it in the states, by all means, come and get it here.''

Like many in the United States, hit by a shortage of flu vaccine because of the shutdown of a manufacturer in Great Britain, Dan Scott said he and his wife Sheri made the four-hour drive because no shots were available near their home in Rathdrum, Idaho.

''You just can't get them. We've been trying the better part of two months,'' Scott said.

Many came from around northcentral Washington state.

''I'm darned happy we could get one up here,'' said Beverly Bigelow, 81, accompanied by her 82-year-old husband from Cashmere.

Mike Wood of Wenatchee said he and his wife Verla, both 64, got up at 5 a.m. to make the drive.

''I was looking around and I thought maybe we were some of the younger ones,'' Wood said.

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