Hundreds lined up in Bridgewater, N.S., this weekend for a new drive-thru experience — a flu shot.
The community drive-in flu clinic, for those ages five and up, is a first for the area. It is run by Nova Scotia Health, local family practices, and others.
Josh Gee, alongside his two brothers and his mom, Tammy, rolled through the clinic outside the medical arts building on Glen Allan Drive on Saturday.
Gee said he’s been getting the vaccine his whole life, to protect people like his mother who have weaker immune systems.
“I do it for the people around me, more so than just myself,” Gee said. “I don’t want to risk it for anyone else close to me.”
He said the new setup was a real positive and there was hardly any waiting in line. People can get in and out quicker than ever before, making flu shots “even less of a hassle,” he said.
Those coming through the clinic on Friday and Saturday went through three stations. They answered some medical questions in one line, then were rechecked in a second line before getting the flu vaccine.
They were then asked to wait for 15 minutes in a monitoring area before going on their way.
Dr. Greg Thibodeau, a family physician in the area and one of the doctors participating in the clinic, said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic brought about the idea for a faster, safer way to immunize many people in a short amount of time.
They had about 15 people working to screen people and provide the shots, Thibodeau said, including doctors, nurses and third-year medical students from Dalhousie University.
There’s already a huge spike in Nova Scotians showing up to pharmacies for flu shots this fall, a pattern that seems to also be showing up for the drive-thru method.
Thibodeau said they provided about 260 flu shots over three hours at the drive-thru clinic Friday, and had already seen 140 cars before noon on Saturday.
“I’m excited about that,” Thibodeau said.
“It’s really lovely. And patients are just excited, saying, ‘Why haven’t we done this before? This is so fun,’ or, ‘It’s so easy and it’s so convenient, and thank you for doing this.’ So the feedback from the community and the patients respectively has been extremely positive.”
Clinic patients and Thibodeau agree that the COVID-19 pandemic is likely pushing more people to get their flu shots in this year than in the past.
The vaccine is a “tried and true” method to lessen the flu risk for vulnerable people in a community, Thibodeau said, and is a vital way to be mindful of the whole community alongside newer measures like wearing masks and physically distancing.
Other clinics on the way
The clinic opens again next Friday from 3:30-6:30 p.m., and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Although there are no plans yet for further Bridgewater drive-thru clinics, Thibodeau said they could be rolled out on other dates next year, or other sites.
He noted some colleagues in Lunenburg are working to set up a similar clinic soon.
Flu shots are available in N.S. through many pharmacies, nurse practitioners, family practice nurses and family doctors, as well as walk-in clinics.