Sentara offers drive-through flu shots

Published 10:40 pm Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Flu vaccinations, according to the federal government, can reduce influenza by 70 to 90 percent among healthy adults.

When the vaccines are well matched to the strain of flu that is prevalent in a particular year, according to the Centers for Disease Control, influenza vaccinations can make a huge difference in how widespread flu outbreaks become.

On Saturday, Sentara Healthcare hopes to remove one of the obstacles that keeps some adults from getting their flu shots.

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To help make getting a flu vaccination more convenient, Sentara is offering “drive-through” flu shots from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at Sentara BelleHarbour in North Suffolk and Sentara St. Luke’s in Carrollton.

The vaccines will be offered at a discounted rate of $10, using cash or check. Shots will be administered to adults only; children’s vaccinations will not be given.

This is the second year Sentara will have offered the drive-through shots, and Dr. Scott A. Miller, the vice president for medical affairs at Sentara Leigh Hospital, said the healthcare system wants to provide an easy way for people to get vaccinated in order to prevent the flu from spreading.

“We try to vaccinate as many people as possible to prevent illness in the community, so the drive-through offerings are a convenient and cost-effective method to administer flu shots to adults,” he said. “They can roll down their window and roll up their sleeve to get the flu shot and take one more thing off their list of things to do.”

Attendees will go through three tents at the clinic to complete necessary forms, pay for the shot, get the shot and recover from the shot.

Although they are called drive-through shots, Miller said, not everyone will be able to just stick their arm out of the window for the shot and drive off swiftly.

“Most people will have to get out of their cars, and they are required to wait for a period of time to assure there are no adverse reactions,” he said.

People will have to wait about 15 minutes, and then they will be able to leave.

In addition to the Suffolk and Carrollton locations, drive-through shots will be offered at Sentara Port Warwick in Newport News, Sentara Gloucester Medical Arts and Sentara Princess Anne in Virginia Beach.

Miller said for the first time this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests everyone over 6 months old should get vaccinated.

“Everyone is at risk for seasonal influenza,” he said. “The best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year.”

He added it is even more critical to get a flu shot for individuals in high-risk groups, who are at greater risk for complications if they get the flu.

The groups include anyone 65 years or older, children younger than 5, people with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, people with heart disease and neurological conditions and pregnant women.

Vaccinations also are strongly recommended for people living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, people who live with others at high risk for flu complications, healthcare workers and household contacts and caregivers of children less than 6 months old.