Flu shot clinics for Veterans set - Milwaukee VA Medical Center
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Milwaukee VA Medical Center

 

Flu shot clinics for Veterans set

flu shot

It's time to get a flu shot.

By David Walter
Tuesday, September 15, 2020

IMPORTANT: Veterans, click here and here for informational flyers on getting your flu shot.

Now’s the time to get your flu shot.

While there will be no one-day flu shot clinic at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center this year, as there has been in the past, the VA health care center in Green Bay will be hosting clinics.

All flu shots are available free of charge.

New this year at Green Bay’s Milo C. Huempfner Health Care Center, 2851 University Ave., is a drive-thru option for Veterans to get their shots.

“It’s for the safety of our Veterans and staff who may not want to bring their footprint into the facility,” said Erin Walker, primary care registered nurse program manager at the Green Bay clinic. “We wanted to provide a safer option, and the drive-thru is the answer.”

Green Bay’s drive-thru clinic kicks off Sept. 21 and will continue through Oct. 8. Hours are 8:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday; the drive-thru clinic is not offered on Fridays.

There will be three Saturday drive-thru clinics, 8:15 a.m. to noon on Sept. 26 and Oct. 3 and 17.

No appointments are required for the weekday drive-thru clinics. Appointments are required for the three Saturday sessions, Walker said.

“We are highly encouraging the drive-thru option this year,” Walker said, noting that extra staff will be on hand to meet demand.

“You don’t need to get out of your car. Just follow the signs, roll down your window, answer some questions and get a vaccine.”

Those receiving the vaccine are required to wear a mask. A mask will be provided for those who don’t have one.

In addition, the drive-thru may be delayed or canceled due to weather.

Veterans who prefer to get their flu shot inside the clinic can do so, with an appointment, Sept. 14-18, as well as every Friday during the drive-thru campaign, Walker said. Hours are 8:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

Beginning Oct. 13 and continuing through mid-November, in-building flu shots will be available Monday through Friday.

To make an appointment, call 920-431-2500 and select Option 2.

Anyone entering the clinic must wear a mask and will be subject to a mandatory health screening.

Also, the Green Bay Vet Center will have its new Mobile Vet Center stationed at the drive-thru clinic.

“This is an opportunity to connect with Veterans and provide support,” said Green Bay Vet Center Director Scott Katzka. “We’re building a relationship with the clinic staff, showing our support and working together for Veterans.”

The Mobile Vet Center provides readjustment counseling and information resources for Veterans. The centers focus on services that help Veterans make the transition from military to civilian life. More information is available at www.vetcenter.va.gov.

No clinic in Milwaukee

Restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic forced Milwaukee VA officials to cancel the usual walk-in flu vaccine clinic.

“We don’t have the space to maintain social distancing for the number of people who walk in at one time,” said Jessica Kois, Primary Care registered nurse.

Instead, Veterans can get shots from their regular doctor or through the Community Care Network, which includes CVS, Costco, Kroger, Pick ‘n Save, Mariano’s, Safeway, Walmart, Wegmans and urgent care centers. Kois stressed that Walgreens is not part of the network this year.

Veterans should be prepared to provide the following information:

  • BIN: 004336
  • PCN: ADV
  • Group: RX3841

Veterans should notify their VA health care team after getting their shots.

For more information or to find the nearest location, go to www.va.gov/find-locations/ or call 877-882-7618.

Click here for a form Veterans can take with them when getting their shots.

Veterans can also receive flu shots through the Milwaukee VA’s new ZIHP clinic.

Located in Building 70, just south of the hospital, the ZIHP clinic is the go-to place for common lab work, such as blood draws, urine collection, etc.

Appointments are required to get a flu shot at the ZIHP clinic. To make an appointment, call 414-384-2000, ext. 49069.

In addition, all Veterans coming to the ZIHP clinic for other reasons will be offered a flu shot, according to Stephanie Harlow, ZIHP manager.

Other clinics

Dates and times for flu shot clinics at other VA health centers:

Appleton, 10 Tri-Park Way; phone 920-831-0700:

  • Sept. 14-Nov. 30, by appointment only or during an already scheduled appointment. Call the clinic to make an appointment.

Cleveland, 1205 North Ave.; phone 920-693-5600:

  • Sept. 21-Oct. 17, by appointment only. Call the clinic to schedule an appointment.

Union Grove, 41425 Spring St.; phone 262-878-7001:

  • Drive-thru clinic, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Oct. 21.
“Getting a flu shot gives you your own personal immunity, and it increases the chances that if you are exposed to the influenza strain, you have a better chance of recovering quickly and staying out of the hospital.” Gaylyn Raduenz, infection disease registered nurse

The importance of a flu shot

In the age of COVID-19, it’s “more important than ever“ to get a flu shot, Walker said.

Gaylyn Raduenz, infection disease registered nurse at the Milwaukee VA, agreed.

“Getting a flu shot gives you your own personal immunity, and it increases the chances that if you are exposed to the influenza strain, you have a better chance of recovering quickly and staying out of the hospital,” she said.

“In addition to protecting yourself, you’re protecting those you live with and care for,” she said.

Much like COVID-19, influenza is spread through coughing, sneezing or talking, which carries the virus through the air. And also like COVID-19, it’s possible to have the flu and be infectious before any symptoms emerge, Raduenz said.

“About two days before you realize you’re sick, you’re able to exude that virus and pass it on to others,” she said. “That’s why we wear masks: to reduce that risk.”

Raduenz stressed that all the same precautions urged for COVID-19 -- wearing masking, keeping distances from others, washing hands, not touching the face – are good for slowing the spread of the flu as well.

Are we looking at a bad flu season?

“It’s very difficult to predict,” she said. “It’s dependent on how much people stay away from each other.”

Raduenz noted that the beginning of 2020 was shaping up to be a bad year for influenza. But when COVID hit, people started taking precautions against that.

“And influenza basically disappeared,” she said.

“We need to keep doing what we’re doing now – wearing PPE on the job, wearing masks, washing hands, etc.” she said.

 

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