By Ms. Kaytrina Curtis (Winn ACH)November 20, 2019
Although pneumonia and influenza related deaths which typically occur this time year are down, so far this season, 30 states and one U.S. territory have reported flu activity. From a readiness standpoint the flu-drive thru clinic is one way Winn prepares the community.
"It's an exceptional way to get your flu vaccine, because very few installations do it this way," said Winn ACH Commander, Col. Michelle Munroe. "It allows us to vaccinate almost 2,500 people in one setting."
Major Atia Mbah, the IDPH chief said the flu clinic has far reaching effects.
"What we are doing here today is actually part of the annual pandemic exercise," Mbah said. "In case there was an outbreak of any infectious disease, and the hospital commander or the installation commander wanted us to do a mass vaccination, then we will be prepared. So this is part of what we do on an annual basis to prepare."
In less than two hours from the time the flu clinic opened, more than 500 beneficiaries had received the vaccine. Specialist Nickolas Stringer, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division found the convenience of the flu clinic a great asset to the community.
"It should be very important to the entire army to make sure you're green on MEDPROS [Medical Protection] because the battlefield doesn't stop for sickness," Stringer explained. "Overall being healthy in general should be very important to everyone."
The CDC recommends everyone 6-months of age and older should get the flu vaccine each year. Conversely, there are those with the rare exception to receiving the shot. However, the vaccine is important for people who are at high-risk if they were to get the flu.
Family member Sabrina Chandler was one of the first cars in line to get her and her 7-month old daughter vaccinated.
"Me and my husband made the decision to get her vaccinated for everything mainly because there's a lot of stuff that with their immune systems being so weak, they can get sick very easily," Chandler said. "We don't want her to have to deal with lifelong repercussions of not getting vaccinated."
Chandler said the drive-thru flu clinic was "quick and easy."
"The only reason I had to get out of my car was help them with her," said Chandler. "It makes life just that much easier when you have a 7-month old to be able to just do something quick and easy to make sure she's safe."
The MEDDAC staff was partly driven indoors by the rain and wind second day of the clinic. Resiliently the whole team pulled together and carried out the contingency inclement weather plan. Everything was moved to the Army Wellness Center. Beneficiaries were rerouted via social media as well as physical presence at the prior location.
Although the bulk flu vaccine arrived late this year throughout the medical military region, Mbah said getting the community vaccinated before the winter travel season kicked off is important to him, and he is passionate about the clinic from a public health perspective.
"The more people you vaccinate you develop that heard immunity," Mbah explained. "From a public health standpoint you have a healthy community and it protects people from getting sick."
Munroe agrees, and said Winn's focus is on the readiness of the military community on and off the installation.
"This is not just about the active-duty force, but our installation as a whole," Munroe said.
At the end of the two-day flu clinic, more than 2,100 beneficiaries were vaccinated.