How Drive-Thru Vaccinations Can Help #StopTheSpread

John G Gums PharmDSpecial thanks to John Gums, PharmD, associate dean for clinical affairs and administrative affairs at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy and professor of pharmacy and medicine at UF Health, for this guest blog post on drive-thru respiratory vaccine clinics as a model for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, during National Influenza Vaccination Week (December 6-12, 2020).

Staying up to date on vaccinations is more important than ever this year, and caregivers at University of Florida Health (UF Health) are making it easier for patients to receive an influenza (flu) vaccine and other vaccinations without leaving their vehicles. A drive-thru respiratory vaccine program launched in mid-October offers UF Health patients the opportunity to get vaccinated for flu or pneumococcal disease.

The vaccines are administered from the ground floor of a two-story parking garage in Gainesville. The site has been home to a COVID-19 testing center since May 2020, so the infrastructure was already in place to support the drive-thru vaccine clinic. Patients use the health system’s portal to schedule an appointment online, and the drive-thru process takes about 5-10 minutes.

The motivation for developing this model was driven by research and reports that parents did not want to step into a brick-and-mortar location during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to get their children vaccinated. With concerns about COVID-19, and the overlap with flu season this year, there will likely be a number of adults who may skip their annual flu vaccine in a traditional setting such as a doctor’s office, so offering a more convenient option is important.

CDC flu vaccine clinicAfter receiving the vaccination, patients are required to park their vehicle and complete a short survey. This allows the medical providers to ensure there are no immediate side effects from the vaccine, while collecting valuable data about the patient experience. In particular, UF Health leadership wants to know how patients learned about the program and whether they intended to receive a flu vaccination this year—if not for the drive-thru option. The patient survey will help measure the clinical impact of the program.

A team of healthcare professionals worked together to make the drive-thru clinic a reality at UF Health. Physicians, pharmacists, nurses, support staff, and others collaborated on the project. In addition, students from the UF College of Pharmacy volunteered to administer the post-vaccination surveys.

The drive-thru respiratory vaccination program could offer a template for how UF Health distributes COVID-19 vaccines, when they become available for the general public.

A task force within the health system is studying multiple distribution options, and if the drive-thru respiratory vaccination program proves popular enough, they may consider replicating the effort as a safe way to deliver COVID-19 vaccines.

In addition, UF Health leadership is working on a white paper that will detail the organization and operational specifics of the drive-thru respiratory vaccine program. The “how to” paper could be used by other institutions and healthcare organizations who may be interested in replicating the UF Health model.

Keep Up The Rates

Learn more about flu prevention at www.nfid.org/flu. For additional information and free resources on the importance of providing recommended immunizations during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit www.nfid.org/KeepUpTheRates.

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