ST GEORGE, Utah - There are drive-thru lines at banks and restaurants, but how about one for vaccines? That’s what happened at the Red Cliffs Mall on Wednesday.
The Southwest Utah Public Health Department held their annual Flu Shoot Out. It’s an event designed to vaccinate as many people as possible. An estimated 800 cars lined up throughout the morning, and nurses poked the drivers and passengers.
“Its pretty cool,” Max Theobald said of the drive thru style. “I just wish I had AC in my car.”
Nurses also gave the nasal mist type of vaccine for those squeamish with needles. Southwest Public Health Department director Doctor David Blodgett said it’s an important event for them, preparing for the upcoming flu season.
“Every year in America about 30,000 people die from the flu,” Blodgett said. “Sometimes more, sometimes less, but every year a lot of people.”
But the flu drive-thru isn’t just a convenient way to get the flu vaccine. It’s also a test in emergency response. This is the way the health department would administer a mass vaccination in the event of a major outbreak, so they want to make sure the procedure runs super smoothly.
“The health department has the responsibility to deliver the strategic national stockpile,” Blodgett said. “Which is 47 tons of materials that are delivered within 12 hours of a large-scale outbreak or disaster.”
Health department directors estimate they vaccinated close to 1,200 people at the drive-thru and an indoor clinic. For some, the shot is a bit of an annual tradition, a way to avoid the seasonal bug.
“The years that I didn’t get the flu shot, I actually did pick up the flu,” Ben Shaffer said. “So as a result, I haven’t missed it in 14 years."
Flu season officially starts in January. Information on additional flu clinics in southwest Utah can be found on the health department’s website.