With COVID-19 and flu season headed for a dangerous merge, it’s never been more important to get a flu shot – that’s why UC Davis Health has added another safe, easy and fast option with five drive-through sites.
“No matter how healthy you are, if you get the flu, you get pretty sick,” said Tom Bullen, Associate Medical Director of UC Davis Health Community Physicians. “This year, with COVID-19, it could be much worse. If you get both COVID-19 and the flu together, or one after the other, we worry that your illness could be more severe.”
To give patients more options, drive-through flu shots are now available at UC Davis Health clinics in Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova, Davis, Roseville and Sacramento.
“We want to make it as easy, safe and convenient as possible to get your shot,” Bullen said.
Along with the constant concerns about the dangers of the flu, infectous disease experts are especially alarmed this year because they don’t know how severe the flu will be this season, or how it will interact with the coronavirus.
“We’re entering uncharted territory,” said Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. “We have not been through anything like this. There is so much we don’t know.”
But UC Davis Health experts do know that flu shots offer a strong measure of protection. The shot reduces your likelihood of getting sick at all by about 40-60% on average, and it will reduce the severity of your illness, if you do catch the flu – which is particularly important while we battle COVID-19.
And now, drive-through flu shots are available at UC Davis clinics in Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova, Davis, Roseville and Sacramento.
Guidelines for drive-through flu shots
Drive-through shots do require an appointment to manage the vehicle flow. Those can be made through the MyUCDavisHealth app or by calling the clinic. Hours will vary for each clinic.
— Tom Bullen
There are a few other guidelines:
- Drivers must be at least 18 years old.
- Children must be at least 9 years old and have a parent or guardian in the vehicle.
- Multiple patients can be in one vehicle, but each needs their own window – in short: one arm per window.
- As with all medical appointments, patients in cars are required to wear masks.
- No drive-through shots are allowed for anyone who has never had a flu vaccine. Those patients must come inside the clinic.
“For someone who has never gotten the vaccine before, we want to be sure there are no reactions, which are extremely rare, so we’d like them in the clinic which is a more controlled setting,” Bullen said.
Some other patients will not be allowed drive-through shots and should contact their primary care doctors about getting a flu vaccine. Those people include:
- Anyone who is sick for any reason.
- Someone with egg allergies.
- Someone who has had a past reaction to a flu shot.
“Some of those people might still be able to get a flu shot, but they do need to talk with their doctor,” Bullen said. “If you’re already experiencing flu symptoms, please call your doctor right away.”
Reminder: Flu shots won’t give you the flu
“There always seems to be some misinformation going around, so it’s very important to remember the vaccine does not give you the flu.” Bullen said. “It will not make you sick.”
Some people might be sore at the spot of the injection, but it doesn’t last long. And a small percentage of people might develop a low fever or muscle soreness – but actually, those are signs the vaccine is working.
“This means your immune system has turned on and it’s getting ready to fight off the flu virus,” he said. “Those are the signals that your body is developing the immune response to protect you.”
Now is the time to get your shot
The full immune response takes about two weeks to build up, which is why people should get their flu shots now. “That’s why we’re doing all we can to make it easy for people,” Bullen said.
If anyone wants a shot and does not want to use the drive-through sites, they can call their primary care provider to make an appointment or schedule a vaccine visit on their MyUCDavisHealth app.
“It’s always faster and easier if you make an appointment, and those are typically available that day or in a day or two,” Bullen said. “This unique year, we especially encourage you to make an appointment. Besides saving time, it will help with our social distancing protocols.”
But, he said, UC Davis Health wants to make getting a shot as convenient as possible, so you can also walk in without an appointment and ask for a shot at any UC Davis Health primary care clinic.
“What’s most important is that you get your flu vaccine,” Bullen said. “There’s never been a season in our lifetimes when every one of us needed a flu shot more than this year.”