PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — In an effort to get people vaccinated and prevent a repeat of last winter’s high-severity flu season, the R.I. Department of Health is bringing flu shots out into the community.
On Thursday, the gym at the Wheeler School on Providence’s East Side turned into a mobile flu clinic, one of dozens planned at schools across the state.
During the day, flu vaccines will be administered to students and families, then the clinics will be open to the public at night.
“We are expecting about 350 to 400 community members to come today,” Wheeler School nurse Kathy McKenna said Thursday.
The flu shots are free for everyone. The initiative started in 2009 and has grown each year since, according to health department spokesperson Joseph Wendelken.
“The program has gotten bigger and bigger and bigger, and we have more and more schools participating now,” he said. “We have about 250 clinics throughout the state. Last year, we had almost 25,000 flu shots that were given at these clinics.”
Wendelken said the program is about making flu shots as accessible as possible.
“School-aged children are one of the groups that are at high risk for complications from the flu, so that is why it is really important that the children be vaccinated,” he explained. “The flu can be dangerous for anyone, regardless of their age, so that is why we’ve worked hard to set up these clinics that are both happening in the afternoon and evening, the evening clinics being open to the entire community.”
McKenna said the in-school clinic is a helpful resource in preparing for flu season.
“For families that make the decision to receive the vaccine, it really is helpful during flu season to try to keep our community as healthy as we can,” she said.
The clinics run through December in schools across the state.