Four Tips for Hosting a Drive-Thru Flu Shot Clinic

Since 2009, Decatur County Memorial Hospital (DCMH) has made getting the flu shot easy for the residents of Greensburg, Indiana. The hospital offers popular drive-thru flu shot clinics. atom Alliance Quality Improvement Advisor Jamsey Thomas interviewed DCMH Infection Prevention Nurse David Pavey to learn how the hospital administers hundreds of vaccines in a three-hour period ( 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.). Pavey shared tips to help other providers quickly and efficiently vaccinate community members.

Adequate Marketing
Promotion is key. DCMH staff members work with media and stakeholders to promote the event. This includes the local newspaper (Greensburg Daily News), radio station, and the Chamber of Commerce. Pavey said the community expects the drive-thru clinics and plans for them.

Managing Traffic Flow
The hospital is in the center of town and located on the major highway. This makes it well-suited to host a drive-thru immunization clinic. Early on the day of the event, hospital maintenance staff and volunteer staff place traffic cones to guide vehicles. They devote half of the parking lot to the event while being cautious to not let traffic back up to the main road. This may cause people to leave before getting their shot. Traffic coordination is very important. Slow-moving lines or poor planning may make people not get vaccinated according to Pavey.

Logistics Details
When a vehicle arrives, hospital staff ask the driver and passenger(s) how many occupants will receive the flu shot. Staff then provides a (1) clipboard, (2) ink pen, (3) a sheet to be completed for each person receiving a shot and a (4) Vaccine Information Statement (VIS).

Hospital staff walk up and down the traffic lines to address questions and collect completed forms. Nurses provide flu shots under the drive-up awning at the primary care center behind the hospital. The U-shaped awning is two-lanes-wide and provides some protection from the elements. The location is next to the primary care center, so staff can bring out cases of vaccine as-needed instead of moving heavy refrigerators outside.

Two nurses work in each lane. This allows each nurse to safely handle one side of the vehicle so no nurse has to walk in front of the car. Applying the adhesive bandage can slow down the process. So staff recommends spending a little extra to buy the type of bandages that have pull tabs on the ends. Picking the waxy side off of both sides is a “nightmare” explained Pavey. He also recommends using trash cans with lids to prevent adhesive bandage strips from blowing out with a strong gust of autumn wind.

Continuous Improvement
The hospital team has offered drive-thru flu shot clinics for a number of years. Pavey and the committee of hospital administration and nursing staff meet immediately after the event to debrief and improve the process. The dedicated team learns from each event, which helps improve the process and the experience each year.

atom Alliance works in Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky and Mississippi to

  • put in place evidence-based practices and systems changes to improve routine assessment of patients’ vaccination status,
  • improve immunization rates, especially in racial and ethnic minority populations, rural Medicare beneficiaries and dual-eligible Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries, and
  • increase documentation of Medicare beneficiary immunization status in immunization information systems (IIS) for adult patients.

For more information, contact atom’s Rebel McKnight who will connect you to a Quality Improvement Advisor in your state.