With both the flu and COVID-19 acting as health risks this fall, it’s as important as ever that people get vaccinated for the flu and that clinics providing flu shots take every precaution necessary in order to keep both patients and staff safe.
Getting a flu shot is not only important from the standpoint of helping prevent the spread of the flu, but it can also save healthcare resources for patients who are being treated for COVID-19. Otherwise, it’s possible that the increased number of both patients with the flu and patients with COVID-19 could overwhelm healthcare providers.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater St. Louis (VNA) put protocols in place to make sure that their clinics were as safe as possible, protocols they have continued following into the flu season. These protocols include changing gloves in between patients; wearing face shields and masks; sanitizing seats, tables and pens in between uses; keeping patients six feet apart at all times and not reusing things like tablecloths that they may have reused before COVID-19.
Protocols also extended to clinic coordination. Consent forms are sent in advance, and companies and organizations are encouraged to use sign-up sheets or online scheduling platforms to schedule appointments in advance. This helps make sure that large groups aren’t packed together at any point during the process to minimize exposure and make sure nurses have a steady, maintainable flow of patients receiving the vaccine.
“The clinics at organizations and companies that have taken our recommendations seem to be running much smoother and quicker,” says Tonya Stacy, Director of Vaccination and Wellness Services. “I think we’ve put in some pretty good protocols to help patients and staff stay as safe as possible.”
VNA has also gotten creative in terms of implementing new ways of giving vaccines. “We have a couple of clients that we would normally do inside clinics for but have switched to drive-through and walk-up clinics,” says Tonya. “We’ve done two drive-through clinics, one of which we did over 700 shots, and the other over 500 shots. It’s been incredibly effective.”
Overall, the feedback from the nurses facilitating these clinics has been positive. “They’ve made a point of telling us that these protocols have helped the clinics run smoother, helped prevent people from standing on top of each other and helped people get in and out in a relatively quick manner. Everything has seemed to flow better,” says Tonya.
For more information on upcoming flu clinics, visit our vaccination locations page.