Needle in, needle out.

When Canadian resident Nora Bates stopped by the Pittsburg County Health Department to get a flu shot on Monday, she remembered the long wait she and her husband, Melvin, endured last year.

“We had to stand in line ... I don’t know how long,” Bates said, recalling the influenza vaccine shortage of 2004.

This year, things have changed.

Bates watched on Monday afternoon as a nurse at the health department filled a syringe with vaccine and tapped it into her husband’s arm. The wait to get a flu shot took only a few minutes.

“This year, you just walk right in,” Bates said. “It’s great.”

The vaccinations went so smoothly on Monday for those who are at risk from flu complications, that the Pittsburg County Health Department is now offering flu shots to whoever wants one.

“I have vaccine available and we expect to receive another shipment this week,” said Pittsburg County Health Department Administrator Mike Echelle.

The health department has ordered 10,000 doses of the flu vaccine for this season — 9,000 adult doses and 1,000 pediatric doses.

A half-dozen nurses were giving people the flu shots on Monday after other health department personnel helped fill out the needed forms. The system allowed many people to go through the entire process in from five to 10 minutes, or even faster.

“When you order this much vaccine and you have people waiting, we set it up so we can move large numbers of people very quickly,” Echelle said.

The brief wait — and the vaccination itself — proved relatively painless for many.

“It didn’t hurt,” said Jake Mabray, who lives in the Frink-Chambers area. He said the nurse who gave him the shot was friendly, too.

He credited his daughter, Renita Day, with making sure he got his vaccination this year.

Nurses gave 841 flu shots on Monday. Kenneth Weiher, of Krebs, made sure he got one on the first day the health department made it available.

“I feel like the earlier you get it, the more protection you can get,” Weiher said.

“I’ve taken one every year for the last five years,” he said. “I’ve had light cold symptoms, but I’ve never had the flu.”

Crowder Fire Chief Gary Brooks made a trip to McAlester to get a flu vaccination.

“They paged all the first responders to come in today,” Brooks said. “We’re trying to get everybody covered.”

Registered Nurses Brenda Langford and Barbara Nohelty were among the health department nurses administering the vaccine.

“People have been very patient and very nice,” Langford said. “Everybody’s been in a real good mood.”

Nohelty said people she’s given a flu vaccination to were very appreciative it’s available.

As people walked into the health department on Monday, RN Ammy Parker asked them if they wanted an influenza vaccination, even if they had came for another reason.

“Everybody needs a flu shot,” Parker said.

William A. Walker, a letter carrier in McAlester, had been impressed with the entire process.

“It’s a piece of cake,” he said.

Contact James Beaty at

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