CADILLAC — As winter approaches, a partnership between multiple health departments, healthcare systems, clinics, and a nurse association is looking to make it easy to get a flu shot.
With this year's flu season coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increased risk for developing a respiratory illness with potentially serious complications. For that reason, drive-through flu shot clinics have been scheduled throughout northern Michigan including two in Cadillac and one in Mesick.
The first will be held from 5-8 p.m. on Dec. 1 at the Cherry Grove Fire Department, 4830 M-55, followed by a clinic at the Haring Township Fire Department, 505 Bell Ave., from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Dec. 4. The final drive-through clinic is scheduled from 5-8 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Mesick Bus Garage, 615 S. Clark St. All three clinics are for anyone 6-months or older.
Participants will have the option to bill insurances for the vaccine, if available, but will not be charged any fees. Participants do not have to have insurance to receive a free flu vaccine at any of these events.
With the clinics happening due to the collaboration of several entities, DHD No. 10 Health Officer Kevin Hughes said it was teamwork that made this possible. In all, there are eight drive-through flu shot clinics scheduled.
"Not one single entity had the capacity to do this alone. By pooling our resources, we can now reach more community members than we would have individually. This is public health at its best,‘ Hughes said.
While the drive-through clinics are for the flu vaccine, DHD No. 10 spokeswoman Jeannine Taylor said when the vaccine for COVID-19 is available drive-through clinics will likely play a role in how it is disseminated.
"We are working on our COVID vaccine plan right now. We have a committee working on it right now, and drive through mass vaccination clinics are most likely the route we will go," she said.
Taylor also said it is a good time to think about getting caught up with vaccines that might have lapsed due to the shutdown earlier this year. In particular, Taylor said it is important to make sure children are up to date with their vaccinations.
DHD No. 10 Immunization Director Bethanie Dean echoed those sentiments. She said there is a concern in public health that children, including locally, are not up to date with their childhood vaccinations.
"There was a decrease in coverage during the initial wave of COVID-19, and then we have seen an increase for students going back to school," Dean said. "Now that we are in our second wave, I anticipate another decrease. I hope that parents understand the importance of getting their children up to date and protected, especially during the COVID19 pandemic."
For those who have not received their flu shot and who cannot make one of the upcoming events, additional clinics are available through local health departments or by calling your primary care provider.
These drive-through flu shot events are made possible by several partners, including the Benzie-Leelanau Health Department, District Health Department No. 10, Grand Traverse District Health Department, Manton Adolescent Wellness Center, Mesick Adolescent Wellness Center, Munson Healthcare, Northwest Michigan Health Services, Viking Wellness Center, Visiting Nurses Association, and the Wexford Adolescent Wellness Center.