Friday, December 03, 2004

When Canadians Go South On You...

They're usually here to receive medical care, not dispense it:

Lynden [Washington] police last night were interviewing a woman they believe is at the center of a flu-shot scheme in Whatcom County.

Detective Lee Beld said it appears the woman is a registered nurse who may have privately obtained between 300 and 500 flu shots and began administering them for $30 each at local stores in a money-making venture.

....Beld said police have not verified the woman was administering real vaccine and are trying to obtain samples in order to test them. If the shots are real, he does not know how she got them. "We are trying to determine how she pulled that off," Beld said.

State Department of Health spokesman Donn Moyer said last night that access to flu vaccine is regulated by the federal Food and Drug Administration. It is up to vaccine manufacturers and health-care providers to ensure vaccine shipments are proper and appropriate, Moyer said. He added that registered nurses are qualified to administer the shots.

....A spokeswoman for Brown & Cole Stores, which runs the four supermarkets, said this week that store managers did not fully check the woman's identity in their eagerness to help the community get access to much-needed flu shots.

Brown & Cole became suspicious when one shopper complained of pain in his arm after getting a shot. The company could not reach the woman and alerted police.

A co-worker tipped off police after recognizing the woman from an in-store video that was aired on television news stations, Beld said. Another person who received a shot also told police the woman had a Canadian accent.

The elements of this crime appear to be: A qualified health professional administering needed treatment for a fee. And, that getting a shot can be painful.


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