Flu clinic reaches hundreds - Etcetera - 11/7/13

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All a body had to do was drive through, proffer an arm and the first 600 flu shots were free — one per customer that is.

About 100 volunteers staffed and ran the drive-through adult flu clinic Oct. 26 at Providence St. Mary Medical Center, said Kathleen Obenland, director of public affairs and marketing. Providence staffers, Walla Walla Community College nursing students, Walla Walla County Health Department staff and others from the community made it happen.

“We got 8,000 hits on our Facebook page for it,” she said. In just 41/2 hours, nurses gave 600 flu shots before the vaccine ran dry around 1 p.m.

Cars lined up for more than an hour before the clinic started, Kathleen said. Patients stayed in their cars or walked in for the shots.

The medical center, Providence Medical Group and Walla Walla County Health Department teamed to reduce the spread of illness in the community, she said.

“This was the second year that Providence has offered a free community flu clinic. In addition to helping prevent illness, the clinic also serves as a drill to prepare the healthcare community for mass immunizations of the public, should that ever become necessary,” she said.

“Flu season usually begins in October and can last through May. In recent seasons, most infections have occurred in January and February, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC recommends annual immunizations for adults to protect them from the flu,” Kathleen said.

Those who missed the free clinic can still get flu immunizations for a fee from primary care doctors, the Health Department and local pharmacies.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or 526-8313.

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