THUNDER BAY - Bill Heibein gets his flu shot every year but this season he felt it was especially important to roll up his sleeve for the shot.
“I think with the COVID scare that’s going around, it’s probably just as important,” he said. “You don’t want to get yourself run down from flu with everything else going on, so I would say it is more important this year.”
Heibein was among the 250 patients with the Lakehead Nurse Practitioner Lead Clinic who participated in a drive-through flu shot clinic on Thursday.
The clinic was held at the McKellar Place parking lot from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with patients of the clinic required to book an appointment ahead of time.
Pam Delgaty, clinical director and lead nurse practitioner at the Lakehead Nurse Practitioner Lead Clinic, said restrictions relating to COVID-19 resulted in staff moving the clinic outdoors.
“Our volume of the patients we can actually have in the clinic is limited now but there has been a real surge in demand for the flu shot this year,” she said. “We decided to run it outside in conjunction with some space that McKellar Place let us use this year.”
“We would not be able to have the capacity to do that volume in our clinic because we would have to clean between patients. This way we can do a vast number of patients in a small amount of time.”
Delgaty said the drive-through clinic has been very efficient, with entire families coming to get the flu shot. If the clinic was held indoors, she said it would take weeks to do this volume of patients.
Those who came for a flu shot also received information from a dietitian and social work on how to stay healthy during the pandemic and deal with issues like social isolation and unhealthy eating habits.
According Delgaty, the demand for flu shots this year is much higher than anything she’s seen before.
“I’ve been a nurse practitioner for 20 years and there has never been a demand like this,” she said. “Often it’s not children, but this year it’s children as well and our seniors are really interested in getting it done.”
Delgaty added that she recommends everyone get the flu shot every year, but it is especially important for those with chronic health conditions and individuals over the age of 65.
And with the drive-through flu shot clinic proving to be a success, Delgaty said they will be holding another one next for patients of the clinic in the parking lot on the other side of the building.
“This is excellent,” Heibein said. “This is a great way to do this. Fast, efficient, no problems. Lakehead Nurse Practitioners is where I deal. The whole operation here is just great.”