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Drive-through flu shot clinic treats 1,200 people

Also tests multi-agency response to bio-terror attack

Posted: November 7, 2008 5:44 p.m.
Updated: November 7, 2008 5:47 p.m.

Castaic resident Rachel Fast, 18, gets a flu shot Friday afternon after she and six other family members drove through the free flu shot clinic at College of the Canyons.

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More than 1,200 Santa Clarita Valley residents received free flu shots Friday at a drive-through flu shot clinic at College of the Canyons' Valencia campus.

COC hosted the clinic for the third year, joining forces with the city of Santa Clarita, the L.A. Department of Public Health and the L.A. County Sheriff and Fire Departments.

The clinic opened at 9:30 a.m. and ran out of its initial supply of flu shot serum, about 900 doses, around noon, according to John McElwain, COC public information officer.

"We had a lot of people in line, and realized around noontime we were going to have a big shortfall," he said. "We called the Public Health Service in Pacoima, and they sent about 300 more doses up here. We gave the people in line the option to wait 20 more minutes to get a shot here, or try somewhere else."

Most in line opted to wait, McElwain said.

The clinic was slated to open at 10 a.m. and provide flu shots through 2 p.m., or until the serum supply was depleted.

"We set up a bit earlier, and people were already in line, so we opened early," McElwain said.

About 800-850 vehicles drove through the clinic before it closed just before 1 p.m.

"We're seeing a lot of folks in one car," McElwain said. "One Excursion had nine people in it. We didn't see that at all last year. We had lot of people in groups of three and four, and a lot of youngsters, maybe 100."

The total turnout this year was larger than last, McElwain said. "I think the word of mouth got around town, and the local media let people know what was going to happen today."

People spent 10 minutes or less driving through the clinic, which included filling out a medical form and rolling up a sleeve to receive a shot given by COC nursing instructors and student trainees.

Valencia residents Larry Davidson, who works near COC, and his wife Rita, who described herself as a "stay-at-home mom," drove their minivan through the clinic just before the second supply of serum ran out. This was the couple's third year.

"It's convenient, it's free, and it gives us a lunchtime together," she said. "It's a wonderful thing they're providing for us."

"We got here about the same time as the last couple of years, but the line was longer this time," he said.

Along with dispensing free flu shots to help the public prepare for an active flu season, the clinic also tests the Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI), which coordinates multi-agency response to a bioterrorism attack.

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