Flu Shot Clinics
With all the beautiful fall colors and crisp fall air, it is hard not to love the fall season. During this time many organizations plan fun activities that bring their community together. Prior to attending or hosting any events it is always a good idea to protect everyone from the highly contagious viral infection influenza.
It is recommended that each flu season everyone 6 months and up receive the flu vaccine.1 The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommend that people receive their flu vaccine by the end of October, as it does take about 2 weeks for the body to make antibodies against the flu.1
This flu season there are several flu vaccines available. The two most common options are the trivalent (protects against 3 flu strains) and the quadrivalent vaccine (protects against 4 strains). For those over age 65, there are additional options for getting immunized. One option being a High-Dose Fluzone®; this has four times the amount of antigen as the regular vaccine, which helps the body build more immunity to the flu.1 The other option is the Fluad® which contains an adjuvant that allows the body to create a stronger defense.1 Generally, as you grow older your immune system weakens. These vaccines have been specifically created to help strengthen immune systems for those 65+ during the flu season.1 Currently, the CDC has not indicated a preference between Fluad® or Fluzone® over the regular trivalent and quadrivalent vaccines. Always stay informed in order to receive the best treatment option, new research comes out regularly on this topic.
It is important to get a flu vaccine yearly as the predicted flu strains can change from year to year and the body’s immunity can also decrease over time.1 “The CDC estimates that flu-related hospitalizations since 2010 ranged from 140,000 to 710,000, while flu-related deaths are estimated to have ranged from 12,000 to 56,000.”1 A yearly flu vaccine will reduce your risk of getting sick as well as help to protect those around you.
Flu Shot Clinics
There are many ways one can go about receiving their flu shot. Many organizations, including houses of worship, schools, and senior living facilities have been bringing flu shots directly to their staff, congregation, or students by hosting on-site flu shot clinics. If your organization chooses to host a flu shot clinic, always have a licensed healthcare professional come to you with the flu vaccines. This will help prevent accidents and other hazardous exposures. Here are a few things to consider before hosting a clinic:
- Does your location have adequate space and privacy? Clinics usually have a large attendance and some are not comfortable receiving their flu shot in the open in front of others. Consider having a room or partition available for privacy.
- Are participants scheduled for certain time slots or is everyone showing up at once? The event will run smoother if participants show up in small groups versus all at once.
- Who is administering the vaccines at the clinic? There are various organizations that will travel on-site to provide flu shots such as clinics, pharmacies, and health departments.
- Who will be attending the event? Many organizations make this only available to their organization but these can be organized to reach others in the community.
- Will minors be attending the event? It is good to verify if there are any age restrictions for the contracted company to immunize minors. Always require that parents or legal guardians are present. In many cases, there is a consent form parents or legal guardians must fill out prior to getting their child immunized.
Immunization Provider Selection
- Does the immunization provider have enough vaccines to vaccinate everyone? It is important to plan these events months in advance and get a final head count at least two weeks in advance to ensure that there is an adequate number of immunizations available.
- Does insurance cover everyone’s immunizations? Some flu clinic providers can easily process insurance claims on-site while others must do this manually before the event, making it more difficult for walk-ins to get immunized.
- Does the immunization provider have a patient screening form or medical history form for participants to fill out? If so it can help the event run smoother if the paper work is completed in advance.
- Is there a fee to have a clinic? Some organizations will charge an overhead fee for the clinic in addition to charging for the individual vaccines. It is important to evaluate the expense involved prior to scheduling the event.
- Are the immunization provider’s staff trained in general first aid? Do they have the proper rescue supplies available in case someone has an adverse reaction? Whoever is providing the immunizations should have an emergency plan in place in case a participant has a reaction to the vaccine. They should also be trained in general first aid and have a current CPR certificate.
Flu shot clinics are a great way to reach out to others and will help keep your community healthy. It is recommended to get a flu shot every year to keep yourself protected from the flu. Consult your licensed healthcare professional on the different options available to you each flu season.
If your organization chooses to host a flu shot clinic, always have a licensed healthcare professional come to you with the flu vaccines. This will help prevent accidents and other hazardous exposures.
In conclusion, these events are designed to increase convenience and accessibility to protect your loved ones against the flu. In addition, this will ensure the people in your organization are protected from an influenza outbreak and prevent operational disruptions. The keys to hosting a successful event are establishing selection criteria for providers and proper planning.
Additional information can be viewed on the CDC's website and for additional recommendations contact the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
Resource information provided by: Amanda Klos, PharmD, Board Certified Ambulatory Care Pharmacist