TROY — With flu shot season underway, a local clinic has been authorized by the Ohio Department of Health to administer free flu shots to the community.
“The flu can end up leaving you immunocompromised. If you were to get the flu, and shortly thereafter, also contract COVID, now you’re in some real trouble. We’re hoping to get people vaccinated and get their antibodies built up against flu, so that if flu hits somebody first, they won’t be more susceptible to getting COVID-19 and having some serious adverse events,” Health Partners Free Clinic Executive Director Justin Coby said.
According to Colby, nurse practitioner Brittney Eschelman was a driving force behind the clinic getting access to flu shots to provide for the community. In addition to this, the ODH has a large supply of flu shots to give for free this year — nearly 230,000 more than previous years, due to the coronavirus pandemic — and is able to provide those to clinics like the Health Partners Free Clinic.
“Where they would typically say ‘no, we’re probably not going to work with anybody but public health,’ this year, they’re willing to try some new pilots,” Colby said.
Part of the steps toward getting approved to receive the flu shots was to prove that Health Partners Free Clinic had the means to store the shots in refrigerated storage units. Colby said that after the clinic invested in higher-grade equipment, they were approved through the ODH and were able to place their first order of flu shots, which they expect to receive by the end of the week.
“It’s been pretty much a whirlwind since we got all those things put in place. Several weeks ago, we started having the conversations with ODH, so it took several weeks to a month to put together everything we needed,” Coby said.
The clinic will be providing 50 free flu shots this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lincoln Community Center in Troy. The shots were purchased before the clinic was approved to receive free shots through the ODH, so more will be available at future outreach sites. On Saturday, Nov. 21, there will be a drive-through clinic in partnership with Shared Harvest Foodbank held at Upper Valley Career Center, 8811 Career Drive, Piqua, from 10 a.m. to noon; those who attend can receive food assistance as well as receive a flu shot.
Currently, the clinic is working to create partnerships with organizations in the community to be able to provide the free flu shots to those in need of one. Coby said that all information on the clinic’s upcoming immunization outreach sites will be posted on their Facebook page. In addition to this, anyone interested in getting a flu shot can contact the clinic through their website or by calling (937) 332-0894 and schedule an appointment to receive a flu shot. The clinic also offers walk-in hours for immunization on Monday mornings and Thursday afternoons.
“We wanna make sure as many people who can utilize (this service), does so,” Coby said. “Hopefully this year people will be a little more open to getting their flu shot. We kind of struggle with it each year, folks don’t want to touch it. I think that this year, we’ve finally gotten over that hump.”
For more information on Health Partners Free Clinic, visit healthpartnersclinic.org.