• Flu Shots and COVID-19: Gratitude During the Pandemic

    During Labor Day weekend, I worked at a remote immediate care clinic at the end of a three-week stint. I had worked seven days a week with morning and evening sessions.

    vials and sterile syringe

    On Sunday, between shifts, I led a free flu-shot session. More than 130 immunizations were given by yours truly in a three-hour window. I was impressed by the number of people who signed up, both young and not-so-young.

    My team started by checking the usual issues: Had they been given the flu shot before? Did they have any allergies? Did they have any COVID-19 symptoms or risk factors? Then we would determine which arm the patient preferred for the injection.

    I'd introduce myself as "Dr. Iroku-Malize, the family physician giving the vaccine today,"
    and one by one, I would give the vaccine in either their left (more common at this particular site) or right deltoid. Swab, inject, wipe, Band-Aid, repeat.

    Many people commented that they were getting the vaccine now because they weren't sure what was going to happen this flu season while we are still battling COVID-19. I concurred and reminded them that the measures they were taking to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 would also be helpful with containing the flu virus -- avoid touching your face, practice social distancing and hand hygiene, and wear a mask.

    A number of people commented that this was the first time they had received the flu shot. (Those patients, of course, were required to sit in our observation area for 15 minutes to ensure no adverse reactions). I congratulated them on doing the right thing to protect themselves and their family members. One person told me she had been opposed to getting the flu shot until 2018, when she unfortunately had the flu. She said she had learned her lesson.

    The one common thing about all the patients, regardless of age, was that they all thanked me for doing this for them.

    Imagine that.

    Thanking me for inflicting a little discomfort to help prevent them from getting an illness that could cause them misery down the road.

    I, in turn, thanked them, for taking the time from their holiday weekend to get this done. It's actually going to be one of my fonder memories of this interesting year.

    I'll close by reminding everyone to get your flu shot, and, if you are able, give the flu shot.

    Tochi Iroku-Malize, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., is a member of the AAFP Board of Directors.


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