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To Head Off Twin Pandemic, National City Offers Free Flu Shots

A National City paramedic greets people waiting for free flu shots outside Fire Station 34 on Sept. 22, 2020.
Jacob Aere
A National City paramedic greets people waiting for free flu shots outside Fire Station 34 on Sept. 22, 2020.

The South Bay has been especially hard hit by COVID-19, and health officials also worry about the potential for a serious flu outbreak.

That’s why the National City Fire Department started to offer free flu shots to the public on Tuesday.

To Head Off Twin Pandemic, National City Offers Free Flu Shots
Listen to this story by Jacob Aere.

National City Fire Department teamed up Point Loma Nazarene University nursing program to offer the annual flu vaccine Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Station 34.

It’s the only program of its kind in the state, Capt. Scott Robinson said.

“Everybody is welcome. Our intended population is National City residents who are uninsured or underinsured, but again, everybody is welcome throughout the county,” he said.

Roughly 12% of the population in the South Bay do not have adequate insurance, according to the county's Health and Human Services Agency's 2017 report — the most recent data available.

This is the second year of the partnership between the fire department and the university.

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

VIDEO: National City Fire Department Hosts Free Flu Vaccination Clinic

Monique Sawyer, an associate professor at PLNU, said she is worried about the overlap between the COVID-19 pandemic and the upcoming flu season.

“We want people to at least be protected from the flu since we don't have a COVID vaccine yet,” she said. “So at least we can know that we are offering that protection so that if they do develop symptoms that could be looking either like COVID or the flu, we can have some certainty if they've got the flu vaccine that most likely they have protection against that.”

The flu shots are administered by paramedics and nursing students. Already the first-day turnout looks to be much more than last year, Sawyer said.

“We are already way busier than we were last year," she said. "So we’re really excited about that the more that the word gets out, the more that people will be here.”

Chula Vista resident Marciano Martinez received his flu shot Tuesday at the fire station and encourages others to follow suit.

“I think it's good for everybody, especially the Spanish community," he said. "A lot of times we don't know, but we got to take advantage over here.”

National City's flu shot clinic is expected to run through December, or until supplies run out.