Recently, on October 17, Superior Family Health Team (SFHT) hosted a drive-through flu clinic for the community out of their Queen Street location. The event was collaboration between multiple community organizations including SFHT, Sault Family Health Organization (SFHO) and Superior Medicine Shoppe. Michelle Brisbois, SFHT Executive Director, said she was “proud of the organizations coming together to provide this service to the community” and added that “it is so wonderful to work with organizations like that.”
The event was a drive-through via the building’s Queen Street entrance to the parking lot. Many vehicles patiently lined up on Queen Street. “We are very grateful that SSM Police was on site to help direct traffic at the Pim, Queen and Bay street intersection” said Dr. Cassandra Taylor, SFHO Lead Physician. Patients were screened for COVID symptoms and registered for the clinic from their cars. Then they were directed to an injection station where one of the SFHO clinic physicians gave them the flu immunization. “It is very inspiring that our clinic physicians including Dr. Mclean, Dr. White, Dr. Tkachyk and Dr. Caputo would volunteer their time to provide this service to the community” said Dr. Taylor.
Many people volunteered for the event including staff from the organizations and some of their family members. One volunteer was Jeni Glassford, a third-year medical student from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine who is currently doing her clerkship in Sault Ste. Marie. “I thought helping with the clinic was something a medical student should do, but once there, it was very fulfilling to give back to the community and I felt like I was providing a needed service.”
“A lot of planning went into the event and it paid off as we were able to immunize over 500 people in a short span of time” said Ms. Brisbois. They had a great turn out for the event. Ms. Brisbois added that “Patients were immunized in their own vehicles in an outdoor setting without leaving their social bubble, it was a very safe way of immunizing a lot of people and still following COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. This event gave patients flexibility as they didn’t have to book an appointment and we accommodated any patient from the community with or without a health card.”
Eligible patients were able to get the high-dose flu vaccine however they quickly ran out of supply of the higher dose. “I’m encouraged to see the community making an effort to get immunized against the flu this year, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic, but I’m disappointed at the lack of High Dose vaccine that was made available given the demographics we serve in this community” said Dr. Al McLean, SFHT Lead Physician. The higher dose flu vaccine is indicated for anyone over the age of 65, when it is unavailable, patients should still get the regular dose to still have some protection.
This season, several options are available for getting the flu vaccine. Patients can contact their primary care provider’s office or visit a pharmacy. They can also contact Algoma Public Health or book an appointment via the Group Health Centre for the Algoma Ontario Health Team’s flu clinic at the GFL Memorial Gardens. “It is important to have many different ways for patients to get immunized for the flu so that more patients have the opportunity to be immunized. We encourage everyone to get their flu vaccine.” said Dr. Taylor.
The organizations are planning another drive-through flu clinic for October 31, 2020 from 10am to 2pm at 765 Queens Street East. Vehicles can enter via the Queen Street entrance to the parking lot for COVID-19 screening and clinic registration. Any patient above 6 months in age is welcome; parents should come with an adult in the back seat with their child. The clinic will only have regular dose flu vaccines available. They appreciate everyone’s patience and ask that they allow vehicles attending other Queen Street businesses to pass through the queue.