A group of nursing and medical students from UC Davis volunteer their free time to serve at Yolo County’s flu clinics.
About 20 of them are participating in the enormously popular drive-through and walk-up clinic that operates on two consecutive weekends outside West Sacramento City Hall.
“For me, personally, flu shot vaccinations for everybody is a really important thing we should strive for. This is a really good initiative to get everyone vaccinated,” said Sarah Spivack, a first-year student at the School of Medicine, as she waited for the next car to pull up to stick a needle in a driver’s left arm.
“It’s amazing, we have so many people who want to get vaccinated and who have the opportunity because of something like this,” she added.
Diana Toscano, a first-year student of the Master’s Entry Program in Nursing at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis, said she volunteered to help “a pretty big community who might not have access to health care or accessibility to get vaccines.”
Turnout was so large at Saturday’s clinic, where Spivack and Toscano volunteered, that the county had to close early after running out of its 360 injectable doses. The next clinic at West Sacramento City Hall is this Saturday.
Flu shot clinics this season are busier than in years past due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Providers encourage the vaccines as a way of reducing the overall effects of respiratory illnesses, which can lessen the resulting burden on hospitals during the pandemic when bed space may be at a premium.
“COVID will be with us for a while, and with the approaching influenza season, the wallop of COVID and flu could quickly overwhelm our health care system,” said Michael Wilkes, a professor of medicine who volunteers at the clinic and helps schedule students.
“Prevention is far easier than treatment,” added Wilkes, who is also director of Global Health for UC Davis. “UC Davis medical and nursing students are committed to working with local, regional and state agencies to assure full and free access to these lifesaving immunizations before it’s too late.”
Yolo County’s Health and Human Services Agency has offered free influenza vaccines for years. County leaders appreciate the partnership with the students.
“It’s really great for us to work with UC Davis Health,” said Dana Carey, Yolo County’s emergency manager, “because it’s really hard to have enough vaccinators from a public health department to run an operation this big.”