Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) continually strives to bring care close to home, and the annual flu shot clinics certainly followed suit. In the last month, more than 15,000 people joined one of LVHN’s community flu shot clinics to get vaccinated.
The Community Drive-Thru Flu Shot Clinic held at Dorney Park and Coca-Cola Park vaccinated 9,000 people, the most of any other LVHN flu shot clinic. This annual event allows thousands of community members to receive a free flu shot without ever getting out of their cars. And to make getting your free flu shot even more convenient, LVHN expanded its offerings by hosting flu shot clinics at select ExpressCARE locations, Health Centers and other places in the community, including churches and fire halls. Our ExpressCARE free flu shot days vaccinated 658 people, and additional community locations accounted for 5500 free vaccines.
All this was made possible by more than 700 volunteers who donated their time and expertise. Dancing and smiling as they administered flu shots in the frigid winter weather, volunteers at Dorney Park and Coca-Cola Park collected donations. This year, patrons donated 14,000 pounds (7 tons) of food and supplies, all benefitting local food banks.
LVHN launched its free flu shot program in 1997 as a way to provide people with physical disabilities easy access to this important vaccination. That first year, about 100 community members took advantage. Twenty-two years later, LVHN has issued more than 183,000 free flu shots.
What’s new this flu season
Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) receives and tests thousands of influenza viruses from around the world and collaborates with other World Health Organizations. The CDC presents information to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee, who ultimately decides which viruses the vaccination will address.
The updated shot is composed to protect you against the following flu strains:
- A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus.
- A/Kansas/14/2017 (H3N2)-like virus.
- Both B/Victoria and B/Yamagata virus components from the 2018-2019 flu vaccine remain the same.
How is the flu affecting Pennsylvania?*
As you might have expected, flu activity is on the rise. The Department of Health deemed the flu as ‘widespread’ across the state, which means there are outbreaks of influenza or increases in influenza-like cases in at least half the regions of the state.
“There is a great deal of evidence-based research that shows vaccination decreases hospital visits, hospitalizations, lost work days, and lost time at school, and it is your No. 1 best method for protecting yourself and your family,” says LVHN’s Director of Infection Control and Prevention, Terry Burger, RN. It is recommended everyone ages 6 months and older should get a flu shot each year.
If you haven’t received a flu shot this year, it’s not too late. Call your primary care provider to schedule an appointment or visit an ExpressCARE location near you.
*Statistics based on the Department of Health’s Pennsylvania Weekly Influenza Report Summary released on 11/30/19.