Jill Sederstrom is a Contributing Editor
Some health care providers are taking their flu immunization efforts to the road this year.
Health care providers are getting creative and taking their immunization efforts on the road this year in an effort to increase influenza vaccinations.
Giant Food, a regional grocery chain in the greater Washington DC area, announced its pharmacy would be operating mobile clinics, manned by specially trained pharmacists, to make stops throughout the region in October, according to a company release.1
Pharmacists will use an Airstream vehicle to stop in key locations to provide influenza vaccines to interested families and individuals. Company officials said the grocery chain opted to take their immunization efforts on the road because of the high demand for the vaccine in light of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.1
“As we prepare for the possibility of the unprecedented convergence of COVID-19 and flu, getting your annual flu shot is more important than ever to help you, your family and your community stay healthy," said Paul Zvaleny, director of pharmacy operations at Giant Food.1
As part of the effort, Giant also partnered with Gym Jonez, a popular certified fitness trainer in the area, to bring the mobile flu clinic to his outdoor workout classes to offer participants the flu vaccine.
“We are eager to make flu shots as accessible as possible for members of our communities and are hoping to continue to expand this program to more parts of the region to service people and communities who might not have easy access to a pharmacy,” Zvaleny said.1 “As pharmacists being the most accessible health care professionals, we need to ensure we expand that access to people and communities in need.”
Giant Food isn’t the only organization to bring the vaccines to its client base. In Virginia, the Carilion Clinic fixed up a new van to offer mobile health services.
“It was perfect timing for the vaccine season because our strategy this year was to be neighborhood-based,” community health workforce supervisor Cris Sheffield told local station WDBJ.2 “We wanted to make it easy for people and go where people already are.”
In September, the van made a stop at a community center and offered free flu vaccinations to anyone over the age of 18. The health care clinic is planning to host free flu vaccination events 4 times a week through the end of October.2
“My biggest hope for flu season is that [with] a lot of the precautions and the things we’ve been putting into place that people are listening," Sheffield told the outlet.2 "And that we will be able to keep it down and keep it pretty good so that we don’t complicate it with COVID and the pandemic we’re already dealing with.”
In Canada, Hamilton EMS Chief Mike Sanderson said Hamilton’s paramedic service hopes to vaccinate about 2400 people through mobile flu vaccine clinics this fall, according to Global News. Sanderson said the immunization services are being offered at homeless shelters, social housing buildings, and senior centers throughout the city.3
“With the risk of simultaneous cold and flu season, it’s even more important now to get people immunized against the flu as early as possible,” he said.3
The CDC recommends everyone over 6 months old should get the flu vaccine, with some rare exceptions.
1. Giant Food Pharmacy Takes Flu Vaccinations On-The-Road with New Mobile Flu Clinics. News release. Giant Food; September 22, 2020. Accessed October 6, 2020. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/giant-food-pharmacy-takes-flu-vaccinations-on-the-road-with-new-mobile-flu-clinics-301135518.html
2. Roshetko K. Free flu shot clinic launches Carilion mobile health outreach initiative. WDBJ. Published September 25, 2020. Accessed October 6, 2020. https://www.wdbj7.com/2020/09/25/free-flu-shot-clinic-launches-carilion-mobile-health-outreach-initiative/
3. Mann K. Paramedics hope to reach 6 times as many at-risk residents through mobile flu shot clinics. Global News. Published September 25, 2020. Accessed October 6, 2020. https://globalnews.ca/news/7359321/hamilton-mobile-flu-shot-clinics/