By midmorning Tuesday, a steady line of vehicles could be seen winding through the parking lot at Hancock College's Santa Maria campus during a two-day, drive-through flu vaccine clinic organized by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.
The Santa Maria college is hosting one of three free vaccine clinics throughout the county, organized in preparation for flu season in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We just don’t want to mix up the flu with COVID, so we’re doing everything we can," county Disaster Preparedness Manager Jan Koegler said. "We want to continue to do all the things we’re doing for COVID, like wearing a mask and washing hands, that also protect you from the flu."
Other clinics took place in Lompoc and Santa Barbara last week, with between 1,100 and 1,200 individuals vaccinated at each site. A similar turnout is expected during the two days of the Santa Maria clinic, with 330 vaccinations completed halfway through the first day, Koegler said.
"This is the largest turnout we have ever had for a flu clinic. We usually do one or two during flu season, just to stay in practice for an event, a pandemic, just like this," said Koegler, who donned a yellow traffic vest for the Hancock clinic.
Tuesday's clinic required a workforce of over 50 medical staff and volunteers from both the Public Health Department and Medical Reserve Corps. tasked with directing traffic, completing patient forms and performing vaccinations, Koegler said.
For their second day on Thursday, however, the county's staffing will be supplemented by an additional 20 nursing students from Hancock College, who also helped out at last week's clinic in Lompoc.
"We’ve had lots of participation from students and staff at Hancock. We’re really appreciative of the efforts to help in the community," Koegler said.
The Santa Maria clinic will be open again on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hancock College. Vaccinations are available to individuals 2 years of age and older, with no identification or insurance information required.
Those wanting to attend should enter the campus parking lot on Bradley Road, where they will be directed through the route and asked to complete a brief survey before their vaccination.
Along with the drive-through, community members can also park on or near campus and receive a walk-up vaccination at the end of the drive-through route in the parking lot.
Free flu vaccinations are also available in at Dignity Health Urgent Care in Solvang through Saturday.
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