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Drive-thru vaccination line keeps 919 SOW Airmen medically ready

Photo of Airmen next to truck preparing flu vaccines

Members of the 919th Special Operations Medical Squadron administer flu vaccinations to reservists in their vehicles at Duke Field, Florida, Nov. 7, 2020. The 919th SOMDS held their first ever drive-thru vaccination line to keep reservists medically ready while maintaining social distancing guidelines for COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jonathan McCallum)

Photo of Airmen preparing and administering flu shots.

Members of the 919th Special Operations Medical Squadron administer flu vaccinations to reservists in their vehicles at Duke Field, Florida, Nov. 7, 2020. The 919th SOMDS held their first ever drive-thru vaccination line to keep reservists medically ready while maintaining social distancing guidelines for COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jonathan McCallum)

Photo of truck parked at drive-thru flu line at the medical squadron building

Members of the 919th Special Operations Medical Squadron administer flu vaccinations to reservists in their vehicles at Duke Field, Florida, Nov. 7, 2020. The 919th SOMDS held their first ever drive-thru vaccination line to keep reservists medically ready while maintaining social distancing guidelines for COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jonathan McCallum)

DUKE FIELD, Fla. --

During normal years, Airmen at the 919th Special Operations Medical Squadron don’t need to put much thought into how they are going to provide flu shots to Citizen Air Commandos. This year though, the 919th SOMDS team needed to find a way to provide vaccinations for members while following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. To do this, Capt. Lindsay Piechowiak, 919th SOMDS Infection Control Officer, organized a drive-thru flu shot line during the November unit training assembly.

“It is likely that both flu and COVID will be spreading this winter, so getting a flu shot this year is even more important,” said Capt. Katharine Saunders, 919th SOMDS public health officer. “Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID, but it will reduce the number of flu illnesses and hospitalizations.”

Members were required to wear face coverings in their vehicles while speaking to medical personnel and receiving the flu vaccine. Medical personnel monitored individuals in a parking lot following their vaccination.

“Every year influenza typically results in 16+ million illnesses and greater than 400,000 hospitalizations,” said Saunders. “Getting a flu shot not only protects you, but those family members around you who might be at higher risk.”

919th SOMDS nurses and medical technicians provided almost 300 flu vaccinations for members during the two-day November UTA.

“Our medical squadron is working hard to keep our Airmen deployment ready and healthy during the flu season,” said Col. Kevin Merrill, 919th Special Operations Wing commander. “This is a great example of how our team has innovated to keep the mission going and our base and local community healthy.”

Airmen who still need a flu shot are encouraged to obtain their vaccination from their primary care provider or a local pharmacy.