Posted October. 25, 2005 07:25,
As each district office health center in Seoul began giving flu vaccinations on October 24, many people rushed to health centers and crowded them from early in the morning. People eligible for free vaccination such as seniors over 65, the disabled and people who receive the minimum cost of living from the government swarmed the centers from the first day.
The number of people has substantially increased as awareness against variant flu viruses has risen, especially due to the bird flu.
At 7:00 a.m. on that day in front of the entrance of Yangcheon-gu Health Center. Although vaccinations are scheduled to begin from 9:00 a.m., the line of people has already stretched to 30m long.
Gwon Oh-su (72, female), who was waiting in line, said Senior citizens should also pay for flu vaccination in hospitals, so I came early in the morning in fear that the medication in the health centers would run out soon.
As more people than expected flocked to the health centers from early in the morning, health centers advanced the starting time of vaccinations and placed additional civil servants to inform the people about the vaccination procedure.
Yangcheon-gu Health Center opened its doors for vaccination 30 minutes earlier and started at 8:30 a.m. as people came very early.
On that day around 8:00 a.m., in front of the main gate of Guro-gu Health Center, about 30 senior citizens were waiting in line for vaccinations, and at Jongro-gu, Mapo-gu and Dongdaemun-gu health centers, dozens of people waited in line for vaccinations prior to the commencement.
Free Vaccination Coupon
On the other hand, only Gangnam-gu Health Center was not that busy. This is because Gangnam-gu district office, which is in a relatively solid financial condition, sent 29,953 senior citizens over 65 coupons by mail earlier, with which they could get vaccinations at nearby hospitals.
Gangnam-gu made an agreement with 185 hospitals in the district in order to relieve the inconvenience of seniors who go to health centers and providing 13,000 won per vaccinated person to hospitals. That figure is three times higher than that of 4,100 won at health centers.
Going Home in Vain-
The standard of people who can get free vaccination was not publicized properly, and some people went to the health center and returned home fruitlessly.
Yoon Jung-ja (64, female) with a Grade 4 physical disability, came to a health center and found that only people with Grade 3 and above are eligible for free vaccination, and returned home.
In addition, in the process of identifying people eligible for free vaccination, some health centers requested registration cards instead of health insurance cards which were accepted as ID card until last year, so petty quarrels took place here and there.
Mun Bong-rye (79.female), who went to a health center with her health insurance card on that day, complained to a health official saying, What do we do if you dont approve our health insurance card suddenly this year without saying anything last year?
Choi Eun-hee, a supervising doctor at Seocho-gu health center, said that the bird flu is highly likely to combine with flu virus and cause variations and that a flu vaccination is a must as variant virus have high fatality rates.