Flu season is coming to Zuccotti Park, where many people live in thin tents and lack health insurance.
To better prepare the protesters and stave off the possibility of a sweeping infection, a group that included 99 doctors, nurses, physician's assistants and medical students went down to the park Sunday to administer free flu vaccinations.
Medical personnel in white lab coats and green scrubs waded through the park, spreading the word about the public service. Protesters lined up to get a shot in the arm. According to Harry Pomeranz, 59, a pre-clinic coordinator from Yonkers, turnout was good and would contribute to better health at the demonstration.
"Because people are crowded so close together, it would be easy for them to get infected," Pomeranz said.
Most accepted the help enthusiastically, but some were frightened away by the needles. Two sign-carrying protesters yelled that the inoculation causes cancer and other harm. Other protesters quickly put up a tarp in front of them and made them move elsewhere in the park to avoid scaring people off.
Dr. John Jacoby, 65, a physician from Queens, donated some of his vaccine, medical supplies and expertise for the inoculations. The medical staff came together with the guidance of Physicians for a National Health Program, a group of doctors and medical staff who support government-funded nationwide health insurance.