Rain, wind can't stop drive-thru flu clinic - Milwaukee VA Medical Center
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Milwaukee VA Medical Center

 

Rain, wind can't stop drive-thru flu clinic

Drive-thru flu shot clinic

Milwaukee VA Medical Center staffers huddle under an umbrella while giving a flu shot to a Veteran during a drive-thru flu shot clinic Monday, Oct. 12.

By David Walter
Monday, October 12, 2020

“Rain or shine, the VA goes on!”

That was the rallying cry Monday as staff from the Milwaukee VA Medical Center braved rain, wind and falling temperatures to deliver flu shots to 291 Veterans during a drive-thru clinic.

While the daylong clinic saw cloudy and mild conditions at its start, around noon the weather shifted, as winds howled out of the west and rain came down in sheets at time.

But the staffers, all from the Primary Care and Zablocki Integrated Health Program (ZIHP) clinics, took it in stride. They bundled in ponchos and huddled under umbrellas while serving the steady stream of cars quickly and efficiently.

Fifteen staffers stepped up to work on the Columbus Day holiday to run the clinic, and they fought through the weather with plenty of conversation, laughs and support for each other.

“They are troupers,” said Angie Jackson, assistant nurse manager of the ZIHP and East centers. “They are really, really dedicated to our Veterans to stand out in the cold, in the rain and in the wind – the wind is what makes it worse – to take care of the Veterans.

“It’s such a good group. They are so cohesive and collaborative.”fllu clinic

Michelle Jones, a Primary Care health technician, took the weather in stride.

“I wish the rain would have stayed away, but it’s not bad,” Jones said. “I think it (the drive-thru clinic) is a wonderful idea. And I think a lot of the Veterans like it.”

Many Veterans agreed. Tony Lorge drove 50 miles from Saukville just to get his flu shot.

“I get one every year,” he said, remembering the advice of a doctor who was treating him for the flu some 20 years ago.

“He told me if I would have gotten the shot, it wouldn’t have been as bad. So who’s the fool?” he said.

Veteran Dustin Jones said he felt getting a flu shot this year was even more important in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Normally I wouldn’t get it, but since COVID’s going on, I thought, ‘Better safe than sorry.’”

Normally, the Milwaukee VA hosts walk-in flu shot clinics for Veterans, but the pandemic nixed that. So officials decided to try a drive-thru clinic. They specifically chose the holiday to ensure minimal traffic.

Veterans received automated phone calls alerting them to the clinic.

“We weren’t sure how receptive Veterans would be because we’ve never done a drive-thru clinic before,” Jackson said, noting she was happy with the turnout. “I would do this again in a heartbeat.”

The clinic ran from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and staffers said there was already a line of cars when they opened.

Flu shot clinic line

Trucks line up at the drive-thru flu shot clinic for Veterans at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center on Monday, Oct. 12.

Other clinics

Another drive-thru clinic is planned for 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center, 5000 W. National Ave., Milwaukee. No appointment required.

Union Grove, 41425 Spring St., will host a drive-thru clinic 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21. No appointment required. Call 262-878-7001 for more information.

Green Bay, 2851 University Ave., will host a drive-thru clinic 8:15 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 17. Appointments are required by calling 920-431-2500 and selecting Option 2.

Clinics in Appleton and Cleveland are offering flu shots by appointment only. Contact Appleton at 920-831-0700; contact Cleveland at 920-693-5600.

Other places to get flu shots

In addition, Veterans can get flu shots during normal business hours in the ZIHP clinic, though appointments are required. To make an appointment, call 414-382-2000, ext. 49069.

In addition, 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. 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.

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