Casino Criticized for Not Rationing Flu Shots

Southern Nevada's top health official criticized a casino company for distributing scarce flu shots to employees while other businesses donate vaccine supplies for those in high-risk groups.

"We're not happy about it," said Dr. Donald Kwalick, chief Clark County health officer. "Other corporate players are being very, very good community members."

Mandalay Resort Group (search) provided vaccinations last week to more than 500 employees at the Excalibur, Luxor and Mandalay Bay without regard to whether the employees were in high risk groups, officials said.

"Although we found ourselves in a difficult situation, [we felt we could fulfill our] commitment to our working staff without negatively impacting the community," the company said in a statement issued Monday.

"Some of these folks here have counted on getting the flu shots at work," hotel spokesman Gordon Absher said. He said 440 of the hotel's 6,000 workers got shots.

Tom Bruny, a spokesman for the Luxor, said that hotel vaccinated 189 of its 4,000 employees.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (search) recommends vaccinations only for people it considers at high risk for complications if they catch the flu. That includes people over 65, children age 6 months to 23 months, people with chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes, and certain health care workers.

Kwalick said 4,000 shots from MGM Mirage Inc. went to southern Nevada nursing homes, cancer treatment centers and dialysis centers.

"The issue for us was never whether to do it, but how," MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman said. "It was so obviously the right thing to do."

The Venetian also announced Monday that it was donating its 600-shot supply to the public.

A vaccine shortage developed earlier this month when British authorities suspended the license of Chiron Corp. because of problems at its vaccine plant in Liverpool, England.

Long lines have been reported at shot clinics held at pharmacies in southern Nevada and around the country.