Get your flu shot without exiting your car in Groton

Getting a flu shot may not be everyone's idea of a good time, but regional health officials are planning a unique vaccination clinic later this month that the lead organizer hopes will be different enough to generate a few smiles.

"I'm hoping it will be fun and successful," Kris Magnussen, communicable disease prevention supervisor for Ledge Light Health District, said Tuesday.

At the region's first "Drive-Thru to Beat the Flu" clinic, local residents will be able receive a free flu shots without leaving their car, by simply sticking their arm out the window for waiting vaccinators.

"We're a drive-through population," Magnussen said.

She said the drive-through clinics have been run in other parts of the country for about 15 years, but this is the first one for southeastern Connecticut. Everyone who comes to the clinic will receive the shot free of charge, regardless of whether they have health insurance.

The event also will serve as an emergency response training exercise for four regional health districts as well as local emergency response teams and the Medical Reserve Corps, Magnussen said. As part of the exercise, the administration of each vaccine will be timed with a stopwatch.

"We're going to time how long it takes each person to get through the clinic," Magnussen said. "If we had to vaccinate thousands and thousands of people in a short period of time, we want to be as efficient as possible."

If there were an actual outbreak of a highly contagious disease, she said, the "drive-through" vaccination method would be employed to prevent further spread of illnesses.

She added that while the drive-through clinics are designed mainly to test emergency response plans, they also tend to draw people who do not to get flu shots regularly because they don't have insurance or couldn't find a convenient time.

Participating along with the Ledge Light Health District, which serves East Lyme, Groton, Ledyard, New London and Waterford, is the Uncas Health District, which serves Norwich, Bozrah, Griswold, Lisbon, Montville, Sprague and Voluntown. In addition, the Eastern Highlands Health District and the Northeast District Department of Health, which serve the northeastern part of the state, also are involved.

The vaccine supply for the clinic is limited, so people are being asked to register in advance if they plan to drive through. Drivers also are invited to bring passengers for vaccination. About 150 people will be given vaccines. Only those at least 18 years old may receive the vaccine.

j.benson@theday.com

IF YOU GO

WHAT: "Drive-Thru to Beat the Flu" clinic

WHEN: 10 a.m. to noon Oct. 27

WHERE: Robert E. Fitch Senior High School in Groton

TO REGISTER: contact Kris Magnussen at (860) 448-4882 extension 331 or at: kmagnussen@llhd.org.

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