Dillingham drives through for flu vaccines

Oct 29, 2019

Because of increased participation, the public health clinic ran out of the flu vaccine during its emergency preparedness drill in Dillingham.

The Dillingham Public Health Clinic on a rainy emergency drill and drive-up flu clinic, Oct. 23, 2019.
Credit Isabelle Ross/KDLG

It’s a rainy Wednesday afternoon in downtown Dillingham. Cars are lined up outside the public health clinic. There's a police officer at the entrance, and volunteers are showing people where to go. The clinic is running an emergency preparedness plan, and that plan includes a drive-up flu clinic.

Gina Carpenter is a public health nurse in Dillingham, and she helped coordinate the plan. She said that if a pandemic broke out, they wanted a place where people could go to get treated, but where they wouldn’t be exposed – or expose others – to the virus.

“We don’t want everybody to meet in a big meeting spot like the school gymnasium, so we are going to do a drive-through flu clinic," she explained. "And I just thought it would be a lot of fun, but it is part of emergency planning, and we’ve got a lot of partners that are helping us."

Credit Isabelle Ross/KDLG

Nurses from Fairbanks and Juneau came to support the public health nurses in Dillingham. The police department and the city helped with safety and traffic control, the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation provided volunteers, and staff from Kanakanak Hospital assisted the clinic as well.

The clinic had based its order of 100 doses of the flu vaccine on an average of public participation in plans over the two previous years. But this year, that wasn't enough; around 140 people came by to get the flu shot. Carpenter said the clinic will provide flu shots to participants who didn't receive one last week.  

Contact the author at isabelle@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200