Some Private Clinics Have H1N1 Shots

Shipments of H1N1 flu vaccines. vaccination influenza swine flu
Weeks late, and with only a third of the doses expected, Dallas county began mass vaccination of high risk residents against H1N1 Flu Wednesday.

It's the first free walk-in shot clinic in Dallas. But at private clinics, which can charge patients for their shots or nasal mist, the vaccine has been available - in some cases for days or weeks, reports CBS News correspondent Don Teague.

One clinic got nearly 12,000 doses last week. Despite recommendations that pregnant women and other higher risk patients have priority, it vaccinates anyone who pays the $20 fee.

"This is kind of a niche that we specialize in," said Jeff Vitt, the CEO of Star Medical Group-Flu Shots of America. "I've been involved in scheduling, coordinating and providing flu shots since 1998 and we think we have a very effective model."

But state health officials say the private clinic shouldn't have received any doses of H1N1 vaccine, much less nearly 12,000.

Special Report: H1N1 Virus

An investigation determined the owner didn't break the law, but won't receive any more doses because he "misrepresented his business on a vaccine application."

Jeff Vitt denies there was any wrongdoing. But critics say his clinic gamed the system.

"It might be legal, but it's certainly not ethical, and it's certainly not taking care of the patients who need it most, first," said Dr. Bob Kramer medical director of the flu program with the Home Health Services of Dallas.
Like those lined up in Dallas who couldn't get free shots until today.

Dallas county health officials say they have enough vaccine to at least get through today's clinic, but say they've ordered 20,000 additional doses that still haven't come in, and they need them now.

"I'm concerned that the state allowed someone to get the vaccine who should not, in their own words, should not have gotten the vaccine in the first place," said Zachary Thompson, the director of the Dallas County Health Department.

Putting those most at risk behind those who can pay.