- Grocery chain Giant Food is offering influenza vaccinations at new mobile clinics throughout greater Washington, D.C., the company announced in a press release on Tuesday.
- The mobile fleet, which includes a newly converted Airstream trailer, will be in operation through the month of October and is staffed by trained pharmacists. Vaccinations, which do not require an appointment, will be available to both adults and children, and will be covered in full by the majority of insurance plans, including Medicare.
- The clinics will have both standard and high dose flu vaccines for those over 64 years of age. Giant Food, the first Ahold Delhaize brand to offer the service, said that the mobile clinics are a response to an influx in demand for flu vaccinations this season.
As health experts warn of the risks posed by this year's flu season, Giant Food is taking the opportunity to experiment with a new way of distributing flu vaccines with its mobile clinics. The clinics will target members of the community for whom pharmacies are difficult to access, said Paul Zvaleny, Giant Food's director of pharmacy operations, in the company press release. Pharmacists at the mobile vaccination clinics will also advise patients on whether they are missing any other recommended vaccinations.
The prevalence of social distancing measures and halting of most international air travel may lessen the role of influenza in the fall, some experts say. However, others speculate that the flu season risks the possibility of a "twindemic" that would place a severe strain on the healthcare system, a scenario which Johns Hopkins University said could be curbed with “effective, widespread vaccination." Similar symptoms caused by the flu and COVID-19 may also simultaneously strain coronavirus testing facilities.
The CDC recommends that everyone over six months of age receive a flu shot this year, and services such as Giant’s mobile clinics provide a socially distanced and accessible option for seniors and people who are immunocompromised, in particular.
Giant’s mobile clinics, like drive-thru COVID-19 tests offered by Kroger Health and Hy-Vee, are a way of minimizing crowding in physical pharmacies. Earlier this month, Kroger Health announced its own comprehensive flu shot program including touchless, in-store appointments and drive-thru vaccinations with the same model as its drive-thru COVID-19 testing offerings. Hy-Vee is also providing no-appointment, drive-up flu shots through the month of October at pharmacy locations around the country.