With flu season around the corner and the pandemic still with us, it is more important than ever that British Columbians get their flu shots this year. The anticipated high demand brings with it challenges for doctors who have limited space to see patients safely in their office because of the pandemic.
It means family doctors and divisions of family practice, working with their community partners, are getting innovative.
Dr Janet Evans and her team at CGB Medical Clinic, working with Central Okanagan Division of Family Practice in Kelowna did, just that – with a drive-thru immunization clinic.
"Over their past winter, Australia had to come up with innovative ideas to give flu shots and one of the doctor's offices down there did a drive-through, so that's how we found out about it and we pondered the idea here locally," says Tristan Smith, executive director of the Division.
CGB Medical patients now book immunization appointments for its patients online or by phone. They are screened for COVID-19 symptoms on arrival, stay in their car while a physician or nurse administers their vaccination, and then spend 15 minutes resting in the parking lot to ensure a safe departure.
The result has been a huge success. Launched in early October, CGB Medical’s drive-through vaccination clinic saw more than 200 patients in the first three days of operating and expect their total number appointments to be between 500 and 1,000. And there are lessons here for the future.
“We’ve been able to immunize a lot more people in a shorter time,” says Dr Evans. “This could be a model for how we provide a COVID-19 vaccine when it’s ready.”
BC’s 35 locally based divisions of family practice are an initiative of the General Practice Services Committee (GPSC), who maintain a close collaborative relationship with Doctors of BC and the BC Government. The GPSC sets the foundation for these types of innovative achievements by emphasizing local solutions to health care challenges.
Doctors – tell us how you and your divisions are going above and beyond this year to get your patients their flu shots. E-mail them to us atand we will share your stories online.
Read more about Dr Evan’s story: