By Walter Ryce
Published November 12, 2020
Since 2013, CSUMB’s annual flu vaccine clinic has been held in the Student Center, organized by Health Promotion and Education in partnership with the Campus Health Center, Monterey County Health Department, and CSUMB Nursing Program.
But with shelter-in-place ordinances, the coalition — led by Health and Wellness Services Senior Director Ana Hernandez and Health Promotion and Prevention Manager Gary Rodriguez — had to think of other ways to safely and conveniently deliver flu vaccines.
Their answer was a free drive-thru flu shot clinic.
At the start of the new year, on Jan. 2, CSUMB lent its vast Lot 59 (a fenced-in parking lot) to the Monterey County Health Department to administer drive-thru COVID-19 vaccinations to emergency medical services personnel.
“The first step was outlining the responsibilities of each type of volunteer,” Hernandez said. “Organizers, vaccine distributors, nursing students administering vaccines and serving as assistants, COVID-19 screeners, and vaccine form distributors.”
Each role required safety guidelines, supported by personal protective equipment including gloves, sanitizers, face coverings, paper gowns and safety vests.
In August, Student Housing and Residential Life conducted its first-ever resident student drive-thru housing check-in at Lot 59. That demonstrated that with the appropriate use of signage, traffic cones and tents, Lot 59 was good staging ground for this type of endeavor.
A plan was reviewed by the Incident Management Team and presented to the Cabinet for final approval. The drive-thru flu shot clinic happened the mornings of Oct. 21 and 22.
Those who wanted to receive the inoculations were advised to stay in their cars, with everyone over the age of two wearing face coverings. Shots were administered to babies as young as 6 months.
Participants drove into the north entrance of Lot 59, where they were checked in and given paperwork and releases to fill out. Then they were directed to line up at another station where the shot was administered by CSUMB nursing students, wearing layers of PPE, through open windows or open doors.
Afterwards, before exiting, cars were given free swag such as frisbees, left over from the Census Bureau campaign.
Hernandez said they served a combined 300 people from the campus and the greater community.
Alyssa Erikson is the chair for CSUMB’s department of nursing and helped coordinate the registered nurses and faculty in the program to volunteer at the event.
“It was a definite success,” she said. “A testament to the power of collaboration. Some people were receiving a flu shot for the first time in their life. And personally, I got to see faculty and students in person since all our work has been virtual over the last 6 months.”
She believes that all they learned—about protective gear, logistics, alternative face coverings to accommodate deaf or hard-of-hearing participants, safe distancing up until the injection is administered—can be applied to future Covid-19 vaccinations. She even notes that the free stickers given out afterwards were popular.
Angela Gladstone, a public health nurse with the county health department (which provided the flu vaccines), was present during both days of CSUMB’s drive-thru clinic. She monitored the temperature of the vaccine cooler and answered questions.
“The location was a great spot and has the potential for a very large clinic,” Gladstone said. She believes Lot 59 can serve as a large site for COVID-19 vaccinations, and saw lessons for the future.
“Advertising works,” she said.
The sites that advertised saw more than 400 participants while those that didn’t drew a little over 100 people. She also said more people verifying any contraindications (any conditions that make a treatment risky) would be needed and that more people to assist with screening and checking forms could be beneficial.
Hernandez, Erikson and CSUMB Police Chief Earl Lawson believe the university can double the capacity of serving stations while safely providing additional exits.
“HWS knew that this would be a good experience to support the administration of the future COVID-19 vaccine,” Hernandez said.