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Health

San Diego Nonprofit Prepared For High Demand Of Its Free Flu Shots

A flu vaccine vial is shown in this undated photo.
San Diego County
A flu vaccine vial is shown in this undated photo.

Organizers behind mobile clinics that deliver free flu shots are expecting such high turnout this year. So, they purchased a new portable fridge to hold double their usual immunizations.

Champions for Health executive director Adama Dyoniziak said the group usually brings around 200 flu vaccines to each of its events at grocery stores and houses of worship. But she said the new device can chill 400 doses.

San Diego Nonprofit Prepared For High Demand Of Its Free Flu Shots
Listen to this story by Tarryn Mento.

“It’s compact. It has its own little generator — really exciting,” Dyoniziak said.

The purchase will help the organization distribute more vaccines to the region’s vulnerable populations at a crucial time. Dyoniziak said the vaccine is particularly critical during the coronavirus pandemic because high volumes of COVID-19 and flu patients could overstress the health system, and the global outbreak has put many San Diegans out of a job — possibly leaving them without thorough medical coverage.

“Usually the flu vaccine costs an average of $40; that could be a bag of groceries, that could be a tank of gas,” Dyoniziak said.

RELATED: Kaiser Doctor Says Flu Vaccine Even More Important During COVID-19 Pandemic

The organization is arranging drive-through and socially distanced walk-up clinics at locations throughout the county to protect public health. More than 30 events are scheduled beginning this month and through the year in low-income neighborhoods that have poor immunization rates.

At the group’s first clinic on Sunday, volunteer nurses and nursing students vaccinated 499 people — more than the group’s expected maximum. Andrew Gonzalez, community wellness manager at Champions for Health, said in an email the group went through 200 vaccines in the first 30 minutes.

Champions for Health partners with San Diego County each year to administer flu vaccines to uninsured and underinsured communities. The health department supplies the shots and the nonprofit handles the rest.

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