Fort Stewart’s Winn Army Community Hospital conducted its fourth annual drive-through flu shot clinic Wednesday and Thursday.
According to Dr. Maj. Shannon Ellis, chief of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Winn, the purpose of the clinic was not just to provide flu shots for military retirees and family members but to practice for possible pandemic situations requiring massive vaccine distribution.
“What we’re simulating here is a point of distribution where we’re practicing our emergency preparedness plan for a pandemic situation,” Ellis said. “If there was an outbreak of some major disease, the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) would provide our POD with pallets of anti-viral medicine, which we would use to vaccinate soldiers, family members and retirees.”
Ellis, who explained that there is only one military doctor in preventive medicine per large installation, has been a doctor since 2006, when he completed his residency at Walter Reed Institute for Research. He said he has led the drive-through flu clinic each year since its inception in 2008, when it was done as a joint preparedness exercise with Liberty County.
Winn public health nurse Maj. Johnny King said the clinic was not for active-duty soldiers. It consisted of four drive-through lanes where 12 licensed health-care providers administered flu shots to military retirees and family members as young as 6 months old.
“Children’s vaccines are age-formulated,” he explained. “We also have a pneumonia vaccine for people with respiratory problems.”
King said he expected the clinic to see 400 people per day. Ellis said the weather was more agreeable than last year, when high winds brought down their tents. Regardless of the weather, though, he said the drive-through flu shot clinic will continue to be an annual event at Fort Stewart.