By Jessica Ennis, for UCHealth
Peg Bacon pulled into the parking lot at UCHealth Primary Care – Rockrimmon in Colorado Springs and before she could finish reading two emails on her phone, a caregiver was at her driver’s side window.
She rolled down her window, completed quick paperwork, rolled up her sleeve and got her flu shot without having to leave her car.
“It’s a real convenience – it’s great,’’ Bacon says.
A former provost at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Bacon says she’s always believed in getting a flu shot. During the novel coronavirus pandemic, it’s more important than ever.
“I think it’s just critical. I’ve always gotten a flu shot … particularly this year when we are all worried about COVID-19, as I am,’’ she says.
In fewer than two minutes, she received her flu shot and was on her way back home. At a bridge game that night, she told her friends about the experience.
Flu vaccinations made curbside
Many UCHealth primary care clinics have begun offering curbside influenza vaccinations for the first time. This year, many clinics began administering the vaccine a few weeks earlier, in September, to help reduce risk for individuals getting and spreading influenza. Flu shots can take can take up to a few weeks for the vaccine to become effective. In some populations, such as the elderly and people with chronic health conditions, the flu can lead to complications that may develop into more serious illness requiring hospitalization.
“While it’s always important to get your flu shot, this year it’s of particular importance,” says Angie Hauck, operations manager at UCHealth Primary Care – Highlands Ranch and UCHealth Primary Care – Castle Rock. “Flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both spread this fall and winter and healthcare systems could be overwhelmed by having to treat both.”
Some locations are offering curbside flu vaccines to patients when that is the purpose for their visit. Patients who need to be seen in the clinic for another reason can receive the flu shot during their appointment. Other locations have a separate entrance and designated area for flu shots and may offer both clinic and curbside options. Contact your primary care provider to find out about location-specific flu shot options.
“We want to keep folks from having to go through the building and gathering in the waiting room if they don’t need to,” says Julie Pringle, practice administrator for Primary Care Longmont, which includes Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Internal Medicine.
“This makes things easier for our patients and I believe it improves their satisfaction.”
How curbside flu shots work
Make an appointment.
Patients who already see a UCHealth primary care provider (this includes family medicine, pediatrics, seniors and internal medicine) can either go to My Health Connection or call their primary care clinic to schedule an appointment. Some clinics may offer same day availability or Saturday appointments, but schedules vary from location to location.
Bring your mask, ID and insurance card.
To keep you and medical personnel safe, don’t forget to bring a mask and wear it during your appointment. You may need to show your ID and insurance card, too.
Go to your location at your allotted time.
When you drive up to your provider’s office, look for signs or a canopy in the parking lot or by the front of the building for instructions. You may need to call a number to let the office know you have arrived and describe your vehicle. You may be asked to pull up to a specific spot. In case of bad weather, you will receive instructions on where to go.
Complete any needed paperwork.
Before you receive the flu shot, you may be asked to sign a few forms, such as a flu questionnaire. Unless you are a self-pay patient, you will not be billed at the time of the vaccine. This will all be done at your vehicle.
Roll up your sleeve and roll down your window.
Make sure the medical provider can easily access the vaccine site – usually the upper arm (deltoid muscle). Babies who are more than six months old and children typically receive vaccines in their thigh.
The whole process shouldn’t take long at all. Drive away knowing you’ve done your part to help protect yourself and others from the flu. (Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently, stay away from people who are sick, and cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.)
“The patients we’ve vaccinated so far are loving it,” says Susan Baker, practice manager at UCHealth Primary Care Clinic – Rockrimmon. “They’d rather not come inside anyway.”