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Huge demand for flu shots on first day of pop-up clinic

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2020 Flu Express at the Rubber Tree, Middle Road, Warwick, outside the Warwick Post Office. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A pop-up clinic was yesterday flooded by hundreds of people who queued up to get flu shots in the run-up to the peak season for the disease.

The Flu Express clinic at the rubber tree near Warwick Post Office on Middle Road dealt with 660 visitors for the opening day of the Flu Express pop-up clinic – 33 per up on the numbers seen in previous years.

Valerie Arorash, a nurse with the Department of Health who oversaw the clinic, said that stocks of the flu shot ran low less than two hours after they opened and had to ask for more from Hamilton Health Clinic.

She added: “This is a good thing for us – it shows that people are taking action against influenza, so we’re happy that we have such a large crowd.

“We hope to see in the future that this size of a turnout is consistent.”

2020 Flu Express at the Rubber Tree, Middle Road, Warwick, outside the Warwick Post Office. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Ms Arorash said that the service, scheduled to run from 10am to 2pm, opened a half-hour early and ran until around 3.30pm because of the number of people.

The queues of cars stretched as far east as Ord Road and as far west as the old TN Tatem Middle School and brought traffic chaos to the surrounding areas.

The clinic moved after lunchtime to Horseshoe Bay in Southampton on the advice of police due to problems with traffic.

Ms Arorash said that she had expected to see more people because of the Covid-19 pandemic – although the scale of the response was a surprise.

She added: “I think that, because there’s not a vaccine for Covid-19, people were safeguarding themselves by getting the flu vaccine.”

2020 Flu Express at the Rubber Tree, Middle Road, Warwick, outside the Warwick Post Office. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The clinic yesterday dealt with “priority groups”, which included seniors, on a drive-through and walk-in basis.

Janice Stovell, 77, said that she and her husband had their flu shot every year, but felt it was more important this year because of the pandemic.

She said that she more susceptible to Covid-19 and other illnesses because she was also diabetic and had hypertension.

Ms Stovell added: “My son’s a doctor and he said ’mama, this Covid is serious – take care of yourself’, so I keep my distance and wash my hands and do whatever the Government tells me to do.

“The Government’s trying to keep me healthy, so why shouldn’t I help myself to be healthy?”

Ms Stovell, from Pembroke, said that she had never seen this many people in for a flu shot.

She added that the pandemic had made people more health conscious and had driven home the importance of vaccination.

Ms Stovell said: “This is good – it means Bermuda’s going to be safer because they’ll be less people catching the flu and passing it on to seniors like me.”

2020 Flu Express at the Rubber Tree, Middle Road, Warwick, outside the Warwick Post Office. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Khamani Fox, a nurse, said that she would take part in her first pop-up clinic on Saturday and was stationed at the rubber tree with colleagues to see how the clinic operated.

She said: “We’re really just observing how the process goes to make sure that we’re doing it as efficiently as they’re doing here in Warwick and seeing how we can improve upon it.

“The logistics of how it all works is interesting – everyone has a role to play and there are multiple roles throughout the entire process.

“You have someone who’s directing traffic, someone who’s actually helping to assist with filling out the forms and then the actual nurses and administrators.”

Ms Fox admitted she was nervous about involvement in a clinic, but was prepared because she was a veteran nurse.

She added: “It’s a bit overwhelming at first when you see everybody, but once you understand the process of how it all works and why people come out here it makes you feel a sense of gratitude that people are actually taking care of their health.”

2020 Flu Express at the Rubber Tree, Middle Road, Warwick, outside the Warwick Post Office. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Joseph Young said that he came to help out as a volunteer from Warwick Seventh Day Adventist Church.

He added that, although he had volunteered in previous years, this time around he felt like he had been “thrown into the frying pan”.

Mr Young said: “I must admit, this year has been busier than the other two years that I’ve helped out.

“I was out directing traffic first thing this morning – I work construction and I just realised construction’s easier than directing traffic.”

Mr Young said that he found it “rewarding” to help with such a valuable service.

He added: “It’s nice that we were able to get more shots and in such a short time with all things considered.”

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Published October 15, 2020 at 8:04 am (Updated October 15, 2020 at 2:03 pm)

Huge demand for flu shots on first day of pop-up clinic

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