Kelowna doctor creates innovative solution to vaccinating during pandemic

Drive-through flu shot clinic

A Kelowna doctor has come up with an innovative way to immunize her patients with this year's influenza vaccine with a drive-through vaccination clinic. 

CGB Medical family physician Dr. Janet Evans says her team needed an alternative way to vaccinate this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

As their office doesn't allow for separate entry and exit points, or the social distancing required to accommodate large numbers of patients, the team instead took inspiration from an Australian clinic who gave the concept a go. 

"Over their past winter, they had to come up with innovative ideas to give flu shots and one of the doctor's offices down there did a drive-through, so that's how we found out about it and we pondered the idea here locally," says Tristan Smith, executive director of the Central Okanagan Division of Family Practice.

He says the legal and insurance ramifications prior to COVID-19 would have made a drive-through vaccination clinic "a silly thing to do," but with COVID-19 restrictions in place, the idea could be reasonably considered.

The drive-through influenza vaccination clinic is not open to the public, but is for the clinic's patients only, located in the parking lot of the Kelowna Buddhist Temple next to CGB Medical. 

Patients are able to book appointments through the clinic, online and by phone, and are screened for COVID-19 symptoms when they arrive at the drive-through clinic to register.

The patient receives the influenza vaccination from a physician or nurse from the comfort of their own car, and are required to wait in the parking lot for another 15 minutes to ensure they are safe before driving away.

While the clinic immunized about 390 patients in office in 2019, they are expecting between 500 and 1,000 patients will register for the drive-through vaccination clinic, led by Evans and registered nurse Heidi Howay.

Evans encourages all residents to get the flu shot this year, particularly in the midst of a pandemic.

"I definitely would go ahead and get it. Now, pre-COVID I would have said that as well, but definitely this would be the year to get your flu shot." 

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