California woman dies while waiting for flu shot

/ Source: The Associated Press

A 79-year-old woman who stood in line outside a supermarket for more than five hours waiting for a flu shot collapsed and later died, the woman’s daughter said.

Marie Franklin stood with her husband and hundreds of other seniors outside a Safeway supermarket Wednesday but collapsed when she left the line to seek shade, striking her head, said Ginni Poulos, Franklin’s daughter.

Franklin died from her injuries on Thursday, according to the country coroner’s office.

“She was standing the entire time, with nowhere to sit and no shade,” Poulos said.

Teena Massingill, a spokeswoman for Safeway, said employees offered chairs, snacks and water for people waiting in line. She said employees handed out numbers in the early afternoon, sending home those unable to get one of the 500 shots available.

The nation’s limited supply of flu vaccine has led to long lines at points where vaccinations are being distributed. Most of those in line are elderly or young children — those most susceptible to influenza.

Poulos said problems arose because organizers did not expect so many people to seek flu shots. “I know they were just caught off guard, and it wasn’t their fault,” she said.

In nearby Concord, police reported that two women, ages 76 and 83, were hospitalized Thursday after collapsing outside a store while waiting in a long line for the vaccine, possibly from heat exhaustion.

Lafayette is located just east of Berkeley in northern California.