Your practice can perform a flu shot clinic while also meeting your enhanced COVID-19 safety protocols. PCC has worked with several practices who are running “drive through” or “curb side” flu clinics.
In addition to providing your families and communities with a vital service (flu vaccines!), by running a drive through flu shot clinic, you can prepare your practice for possible participation in the upcoming mass vaccinations coming for COVID-19.
Learn More From the Experts: PCC spoke with several practices to draw together the ideas and tips below. We especially learned a lot from Dr. Jeanne Marconi, who delivered a seminar sharing her experience and expertise in running this kind of flu clinic. You can watch a recording of her seminar.
Check Out PCC's Blog Post: PCC posted a great guide to How to Open a Drive Thru Flu Clinic at a Pediatric Practice! It includes our notes below and so much more. Take a look!
Watch PCC Pediatric Flu Clinic Roundtable: In September of 2020, PCC hosted a Flu Clinic roundtable, talking about drive-thru strategies and more!
- 1 Pick a Location
- 2 Prepare Things You Will Need
- 3 Plan for Safety
- 4 Set Expectations and Get Your Staff On Board
- 5 Pick a Date(s)
- 6 Promote Your Drive-Thru Flu Shot Clinic
- 7 Schedule Patients
- 8 Perform Pre-Visit Patient and Family Preparation
- 9 Plan For Payment
- 10 Set Up Your Intake Station and Your Shot Administration Station
- 11 Have an Emergency Plan
- 12 How Did It Go?
- 13 Other Things We’ve Heard
Pick a Location
If you’re reading this article, then your practice wants to run a flu clinic, but (especially during COVID-19), you do not want to do so in your physical office space. Where can you hold an outdoor, drive-thru flu shot clinic?
You may have a parking lot or other large enough area near your practice to support a drive-through clinic, or you may not. A local business might. Consider reaching out to banks, stores, and/or your local municipality to find a location.
If your practice does not own your parking lot, you may wish to take additional precautions or seek permission.
You may want to double-check your location’s general liability policy. It usually covers things that happen in your parking lot, even if you rent or lease your property. You may want to share your policy with your landlord, or connect with your insurance company to discuss the issue.
Prepare Things You Will Need
How will you maintain the cold-chain for your vaccines? Do you need traffic cones? What additional PPE will you need? And can you buy a tent from Walmart?
Some practices erect pop-up tents for checkin and administration stations. You’ll need to plan time for erecting and disassembling your tents. If there’s no rain, you might decide to skip the tent that day.
Plan for Safety
Your practice should plan the drive-up visit workflow to ensure safety. Ask yourself how you will “shepherd” cars, and where do they will wait when they pull in. Your location may have specific safety needs, and you will need to plan for traffic flow.
You should also make safety parameters clear to your families and all attendees. For example, instructing families that they should always stay in their car, and instruct staff to not approach a car until it has been placed in park.
You may need additional staff to help monitor and direct traffic so you are not blocking a major roadway.
Set Expectations and Get Your Staff On Board
You can hold a full, all-hands meeting: our practice is going to do a drive-thru flu clinic! Explain how this will help your families and your community. Every staff member plays a part, even if its just promoting the clinic at each contact point.
Dr. Marconi recommends having a “champion” on staff to be the point person, to help clarify and handle questions that come up. Offer food and other encouragement to your staff!
Pick a Date(s)
When will you host your drive-through flu shot clinic? You’ll need a date with adequate staff, and you’ll need to calculate how many patients or families you are likely going to be able to see.
Since you are looking for low traffic and wide open parking lots, a weekend date may work best.
Promote Your Drive-Thru Flu Shot Clinic
How will you get the word out?
Talk to families, use PCC’s Broadcast Messaging, and provide verbal reminders at every point of contact. Dig into social media, update your practice’s home page, Facebook, your phone hold announcement, and consider sending a press release to publications in your community.
Are you the first one in your community to offer this valuable service? Local media might help you promote the flu clinic, and/or report on it, which helps build your practice which in turn means you are better able to support your community.
How will you communicate your flu clinic “slot” availability to all patients and families? And how will they Schedule?
High volume visits mean that scheduling has to be easy. You can have families use of PCC’s portal message scheduling template so that families can pick a time or slot. You could also use a service like FullSlate, Calendly, or Acuity. These services create an online website for you so parents can easily sign up for an open slot.
Perform Pre-Visit Patient and Family Preparation
Your flu clinic will run best if you’ve worked with every family before the actual clinic. Send them the VIS beforehand, do pre-visit COVID-19 questions. When you speak with a family, always take the opportunity to do wellness questions, update information about patient chronic problem and care plan maintenance, and review their medications.
You can send the Influenza Vaccine VIS through PCC’s patient portal. You can also laminate a copy and hand it into the car at the time of service.
You can ask COVID-19 screenings ahead of time, or tell the family to expect them at the clinic. Remember to screen all occupants of the car at the time of service. Practices have developed alternative ways of asking kids COVID-19 screening tests, such as asking what they ate for breakfast and what it tasted like.
Use the Opportunity: You’ve got the family or patient on the phone? Use that opportunity to check in on all recall topics. Chronic disease management, updated immunizations, and more. You can schedule Telehealth and Well visits based on what you learn. You should also review and update demographics, verify insurance, and plan how they will pay! (Get credit card on file, for example.)
Plan For Payment
Many practices simply ask for “cash” payment for flu shots: for a non-office visit, occurring as fast as possible, billing insurance may not make sense for you.
Either way, your practice should work to make payment as touch-less and efficient as possible.
You can work with your financial services vendor to set up secure credit card on file, for example.
Set Up Your Intake Station and Your Shot Administration Station
To see patients quickly, you can have each car stop at two stations. First, an intake station for COVID-19 screening and prep, to help the family get ready (loosen clothes, set expectations), and to collect any forms. Next, the shot station, where the clinician should double-check the child’s age and consent, confirm the vaccine they believe they are receiving, administer the vaccine, confirm the patient appears well, and document that the vaccine was administered.
At each station, you’ll want signs (or hand-held posters) with “Stop Here” and “Put your Car in “P”ark!”. Someone should individually verify that a car is in park as they approach.
Have an Emergency Plan
Your practice already knows your emergency procedures when seeing patients at your practice. Take some time to review and update that plan for your drive-thru flu clinic.
If something goes wrong, or the patient has an emergency, everyone should know the plan. Who will call 911?
How Did It Go?
As with all new initiatives, things will go wrong. You’ll learn how to improve, what to do differently next time.
Send a survey to some patients or check in with families. Did it work? And ask your staff: They helped a huge number of patients in a short period of time! Congratulate and reward them for doing this.
Other Things We’ve Heard
Dr. Marconi shared that with practice and experience her staff can now manage to see 10 cars an hour. She uses a pre-check station, with 1 MA, followed by a shot station, with 1 staff. You can create multiple lanes as well.
We also learned from many PCC practices that a drive-thru clinic has a surprising bonus: kids are in their car seats, in familiar surroundings, and ready for what’s coming. Some administrations are harder in a car, but some are actually easier!
Your practice may also want to have a plan for “guest” flu shot customers. If someone is not a patient at your practice, how will you handle them? Schedule them for a new patient visit?