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La Clinica offers flu shots at drive-in clinic

Leonard Martin was walking his dogs when he spotted a flu shot clinic offered outside in a parking lot.

He stopped by and got a flu shot without having to set foot inside a doctor’s office.

“It’s great. People can drop by or get a shot while sitting in their cars. It’s pretty convenient,” said Martin, who lives in Central Point.

La Clinica offered the outdoor flu shot and a dental care clinic earlier this month at its Central Point Health Center. Holding the event outside helped cut the risk that patients and health care workers could be exposed to the COVID-19 virus.

“For us, it’s a quick, convenient and also safe way to maintain social distancing while providing much-needed flu shots,” said Rebecca Holmes, a registered nurse with La Clinica.

Holmes normally works in school-based health centers, but with most Jackson County schools shut down due to COVID-19 safety restrictions, she’s finding other ways to reach out.

La Clinica will hold another walk-up and drive-in flu shot and dental care clinic from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, at the Phoenix Health Center, 3617 S. Pacific Highway. People can drop by without an appointment.

La Clinica hopes the Phoenix event will attract many of the families who lost their homes to the Almeda fire.

Holmes said it’s more important than ever for people to get their annual flu shot.

The flu and COVID-19 have some overlapping symptoms, which could make it hard for people to tell which infection they have.

Holmes said it’s also possible to catch the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.

“The person would probably be very, very sick,” she said.

There is no vaccine yet for COVID-19.

Kimberly Laird, who works as a home aid through the company Visiting Angels, drove into the Central Point Health Center parking lot and got a flu shot while sitting in her vehicle.

“I protect myself because so many of my patients are compromised,” said Laird, who lives in Medford.

She said the outdoor clinic was a good alternative to going inside a pharmacy chain store to get a flu shot.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, doctors’ offices and other indoor settings have stepped up sanitation efforts. But some people are still wary of going inside — causing them to miss out on key health care.

Holmes said vaccinations against childhood diseases dropped off nationally and around the world this past spring. That prompted La Clinica to hold a series of pediatric vaccination clinics outside.

“It went very well. We wanted to continue with that,” she said.

At the outdoor flu shot clinics this fall, La Clinica’s Happy Smiles team is providing dental screenings, education and fluoride varnish to kids and adults. Fluoride varnish helps prevent cavities and strengthens tooth enamel.

In normal years, the team visits 27 schools in Jackson County, along with other sites in the community.

Jennifer Wilson, an office specialist for Happy Smiles, was helping out at the outdoor clinic in Central Point this month.

“We’re happy to be able to do it, even if it’s in a smaller way. We miss going into schools,” she said.

Later this year, La Clinica plans to mail out dental care kits to students in the Medford, Phoenix-Talent, Central Point and Rogue River school districts, Wilson said.

The flu vaccine is available at no cost at the outdoor clinics to most insured patients, including people on the Oregon Health Plan. The cost for uninsured patients ranges from $20 to $42.

The dental services are offered at no cost, although dental insurance will be billed if the patient has it.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.

Teresa Gugliotta, a community health nurse, gives a flu shot to Gary Glass of Central Point in the parking lot of the La Clinica Central Point Health Center. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch