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Hosting a Flu Clinic During the COVID-19 Pandemic

While it will likely be some time before you can get a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, getting a flu vaccine should be on the top of your to-do list this year.

“Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis.”

Similarities and Differences between Flu and COVID-19

After all, while having the flu is bad enough, you don’t want to have the flu and worry that you have COVID-19!

Hosting a Flu Clinic During the COVID-19 Pandemic

And while most folks realize getting a flu vaccine for their kids and themselves is a great idea, they might be wondering just how that’s going to happen this year, considering that your typical flu clinic doesn’t lend itself well to social distancing.

So clearly we have a problem.

How do you get lots of people vaccinated in a short time during a pandemic?

Drive-thru flu clinics will not be a new thing for many people!
Drive-thru flu clinics will not be a new thing for many people!

Fortunately, there are ways to make that happen!

In addition to screening for symptoms and having everyone wear a mask, some tips for safely giving and getting a flu vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic might include:

  • drive through flu clinics
  • curbside flu clinics
  • parking lot flu clinics (may be better than simple drive up or drive through flu clinics, since it is more practical to observe for side effects while folks are waiting in a parked car vs in a line of waiting cars)
  • inside flu clinics with one-way traffic

And instead of dozens of smaller flu clinics over weeks or months, it might be a good idea to schedule a few really big flu clinics at a large indoor space, such as an auditorium, school gym, or church, etc.

Mostly, you just don’t a lot of people waiting together to get their flu vaccines.

Get Your Flu Clinic Ready for COVID-19

What else can you do?

Although many offices and clinics are installing plastic guards in their reception and nurses area, it might be best to either minimize the time people need to spend in the office or bypass these areas altogether by having them:

  • fill out paperwork online
  • call or email the office if they need shot records or have questions about the visit
  • review the current influenza vaccine information statement (VIS) for the inactivated (flu shot) or live (nasal spray) flu vaccines online (email them a copy or send them a link)
  • print out, complete, and bring a screening checklist for contraindications for the inactivated or live flu vaccines to your flu clinic appointment
  • have specific appointment times instead of walk-in/drive-in hours

While all of that sounds fairly easy, there are things that you have to be extra careful about when changing up your flu clinic and the way you usually do things.

“Regardless of vaccination location, best practices for storage and handling of vaccines and vaccine administration should be followed. In addition, information on administered vaccines should be documented (e.g., through the state-based immunization information system [IIS], patient’s electronic medical record, client-held paper immunization records) so that providers have accurate and timely information on their patients’ vaccination status and to ensure continuity of care in the setting of COVID-19-related disruptions to routine medical services.”

Vaccination Guidance During a Pandemic

Most importantly, you have to make sure that your flu vaccines are stored and handled properly in a qualified container and packout, as you don’t want them to get too warm or too cold, especially if you are hosting a flu clinic outside your office, away from your vaccine refrigerator.

“If delivery to the specific site is not possible, then vaccine can be transported in a stable storage unit and monitored with a (temperature monitoring device) TMD. If the facility doesn’t have the capacity to refrigerate the vaccines, then a portable vaccine storage unit or qualified container and packout may be used with a (digital data logger) DDL.”

Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit

And you don’t want to give a flu vaccine to the wrong person, especially someone with a contraindication!

Are you ready for flu vaccine season?

While flu vaccines haven’t started shipping just yet, it’s not too early to start planning how you will be giving your patients flu vaccines, as they will start arriving in August and September.

More on Flu Clinics

1 thought on “Hosting a Flu Clinic During the COVID-19 Pandemic”

  1. I’d certainly shy away from large indoor gatherings right now. I’m not sure why that is a recommendation (and one followed with the sentence: “Mostly, you just don’t a lot of people waiting together to get their flu vaccines.”) when it’s very clear that large gatherings — particularly those indoors — are high-risk. I firmly believe more people should get the flu shot, and get mine enthusiastically every year, but I would think twice before going to a packed auditorium to get one this fall.

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