4 Ways to Manage the H1N1 Vaccination Rush

Advance planning, drive-through clinics, drills, smart community partnerships and outside-the-box thinking can help mass dispensing and vaccination clinic organizers be prepared for whatever the 2009-2010 flu season brings.

As summer ends and school starts, so does flu season. For many healthcare organizations and schools that offer annual flu shots, this year will push the limits in terms of numbers, staffing and security. Since more people are expected to be infected due to the H1N1 virus, but there is only a limited H1N1 vaccine supply, emphasis must be made on the organization and management of mass dispensing, vaccination and triage clinics.

Here are four best practices that can help:

1. Consider Drive-Through Clinic Options
One of the largest hurdles to overcome during peak flu season is a sick person’s exposure to healthy patients when they visit a clinic. The drive-through clinic concept for seasonal influenza vaccination campaigns is one potential solution to this problem.

In June 2009, Stanford Hospitals and Clinics in Palo Alto, Calif., conducted the nation’s first drive-through pandemic influenza patient triage exercise. This exercise evaluated the drive-through method’s ability to quickly and safely triage and perform medical screening exams of influenza patients.

According to Per Schenck, Stanford’s director of the Office of Service Continuity and Disaster Planning, “From the hospital’s perspective, we can decrease the load on the [emergency department] and keep potentially infectious patients out of the hospital and in their own isolation chamber — their cars.” The patients benefit from quicker triage and treatment, less exposure, and greater comfort. The idea is similar to drive-through pharmacy windows, which allow sick patients to remain in their cars but still obtain prescriptions.

Drive-through triage and mass dispensing clinics can be excellent options if organized with attention to special considerations. Whether a walk-up or drive-through clinic, the control of vehicular traffic flow is vital. Consideration must be given to the potential disruption of traffic on surrounding streets. Clear directions indicating the entrance and exit of the clinic are a simple step.

Control devices and personnel directing traffic should be deployed to monitor exterior roadways. Remember that road closures and directing traffic on public roads create liability and authority issues, so coordinate with local authorities before performing these actions. As cars enter the “working” area, special precautions should be taken to protect staff and patients. Cars should be directed to drive slowly through the stations, engage in park or turn off at each station. Additionally, the number of stations and staff movement should be minimized. Placing wooden blocks in front of tires so vehicles won’t roll or placing a large traffic cone visible to drivers may provide increased safety. Having a tow truck and extra gasoline on hand in case of car trouble is another good measure.

Personnel working in a drive-through clinic are much more exposed to the elements, including weather, exhaust fumes, and hard walking surfaces, than in a traditional clinic. These conditions can fatigue staff more quickly, so arrangements should be made for staff rest areas, rotation and frequent breaks. Plans for restroom needs should be considered.

If you appreciated this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century

This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!

Get Our Newsletters
Campus Safety Conference promo