A drive-through clinic to administer flu shots

Site in Columbia to be open Oct. 15

September 27, 2006|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN REPORTER

Howard County residents will be able to get flu shots without getting out of their cars at a Sunday drive-through clinic the Health Department is planning next month on Gateway Drive in Columbia.

The county plans to use a two-mile loop of roadway in the Gateway Business Park -- normally empty on Sundays -- for the Oct. 15 clinic, which they say will be able to handle up to 500 people ages 5 and older per hour between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The clinic is intended to dispense flu vaccine but also test the ability to administer mass immunizations in a pandemic or other emergency.

"Since Oct. 15 is our kickoff to Community Readiness Week and a time when we focus on being prepared for all types of emergencies, we thought it was a good time to test our ability to quickly and efficiently immunize our residents should a health crisis arise," County Executive James N. Robey said in a statement.

The county health officer, Dr. Penny Borenstein, said in a statement that the effort "will be one of the largest drive-through flu clinics in our nation's history. We need our residents to come out in large numbers for this first flu clinic of the season so we can accurately simulate the type of demand that could occur during a pandemic outbreak."

The shots will cost $20 each, though children ages 5 to 11 can get the nasal Flu Mist version free. This version is highly recommended for people up to age 49, officials said.

Vaccinating school-age children is considered another way of keeping flu outbreaks to a minimum among all age groups, since children typically have a higher rate of infection.

Every 20th car that comes through will also get a free emergency-preparedness kit.

Motorists are urged not to arrive before 11 a.m. They will be directed south along Columbia Gateway Drive to Albert Einstein Drive, where information will be collected and consent forms signed.

The next stop is the payment area, and then the vaccination area, where nurses will administer the shots. Four vehicles can be accommodated at once.

Information: www.hcealth.org, or the flu hot line, 410-313-6503.


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