Drive-through flu shot clinics put public in the driver's seat
Drive in. Roll up sleeve. Say ouch.
Throughout the nation, drive-through flu shot clinics are gaining popularity, making it as easy to get the seasonal vaccination as it is to pick up a burger and fries for lunch.
The process of getting the shot is basically the same as at an indoor clinic.
Fill out the paperwork.
Wait your turn.
Then receive the shot from a trained medical professional.
It simply “provides people with another quick, easy way to get vaccinated without even having to get out of the car,” said Holli Senior, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health, which has conducted drive-through clinics across the state.
Already, 58 cases of influenza were reported in Pennsylvania as of last week, including 15 in Butler County, six in Washington County, four each in Allegheny and Fayette counties, two in Indiana County and one in Westmoreland County, according to the health department.
Locally, a number of drive-through clinics have been operating this season.
Indiana County will dispense 2,000 free flu shots at three drive-through locations on Sunday — a first in that county.
“This makes it very convenient, to do it on the weekend,” said Maureen Pound, 52, of Marion Center, who planned to take her elderly parents and teenage son to one of the clinics. “Instead of hauling the wheelchair in and out of the doctor's office, we'll just roll up our sleeves.”
The clinics — at Indiana Regional Medical Center in Indiana Borough, the Clymer Volunteer Fire Department and WyoTech vocational-technical school in Burrell Township — will operate until 2 p.m. They are open to anyone 6 months or older, regardless of insurance and are not limited to residents of Indiana County.
“We're looking for the fastest and most effective way to get medicine out to the general public,” said Jessica Clark, emergency preparation coordinator at the medical center.
St. Barnabas Medical Center in Gibsonia has been giving drive-through flu shots for about seven years, spokeswoman Robin Taylor said.
“We're pretty aggressive about trying to get people to get their flu shots,” she said. “Our first flu shot clinic (this year) was in September.”
St. Barnabas dispenses 2,000 flu shots a year to its patients and the community at large through various clinics, indoors and out.
The drive-through service, particularly aimed at those with medical or mobility problems, is offered by appointment, she said.
Drive-through clinics have existed since the 1990s, but their popularity has increased in recent years, partly fueled by a societal push for convenience and speed in accomplishing everyday tasks, but also driven by an aging baby boomer population just beginning to experience medical problems that limit mobility.
Researchers at the University of Louisville led by Ruth Carrico published a study last year on the safety and feasibility of its drive-through flu shot program initiated 19 years ago.
The clinic, one of the first in the country, has dispensed more than 50,000 doses of influenza vaccine since then with no reports of accidents or other ill-effects.
“When we started, the idea was to provide an alternative for people with mobility issues,” said Carrico, an associate professor at the university's medical school. “The first time we opened, traffic was all backed up. We had to have the police. It was a real surprise for us.”
Pickups full of construction workers on lunch; cars with moms and dads in the front, their parents in the back; even a school bus load of bus drivers showed up, she said.
Over the years, Carrico said she has received requests for information about the drive-through program from just about every state.
Influenza causes between 3,000 and 49,000 deaths per year in the United States, the CDC said. About 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 and older.
Manufacturers are expected to produce between 135 million and 139 million doses of flu vaccine for the 2013-14 influenza season, the CDC said. The agency doesn't track how much of that will be dispensed at drive-through clinics.
Last flu season, the flu was particularly severe for people 65 and older, prompting the CDC to report the highest flu-related hospitalization rates in that age group since it began tracking that information eight years ago.
The Indiana County clinics will give emergency management officials an opportunity to test the county's system for mass distribution of medications in emergency situations, part of a nationwide emergency preparedness drill to see how quickly and efficiently large numbers of people can be vaccinated.
“The federal government wants us to be able to vaccinate all of our local population within 48 hours,” said Kelly Pidgeon, manager of the county's Points of Dispensing System.
Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Philly’s new vibrancy lures crowds
- Donora-Webster bridge plunges into Mon River after 107 years
- Allentown mayor says he’s cooperating with federal probe
- Presque Isle Downs cancels thoroughbred races because of running deer
- 2 from Western Pennsylvania charged with insurance fraud
- New trial sought in 1977 Washington County murder case