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Drive-thru flu shots available at Pikeville Medical Center

Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 6:08 PM EDT
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - As the pandemic continues into fall, medical professionals are working to remind people that the Coronavirus is not the only virus to be concerned about.

“We know that flu season is coming at high speed now," said Pikeville Medical Center Medical Director of Infectious Diseases Dr. Fadi Al Akhrass.

But with many people uneasy about entering medical facilities because of COVID-19, PMC wanted to make them more comfortable. So the hospital opened its new flu shot drive-thru this week.

“COVID-19 has created a lot of collateral damages and created a lot of fear. There is anxiety behind coming to the hospital and coming to offices and receiving care," said Dr. Al Akhrass.

He said the drive-thru, located behind the Family Practice building on South Mayo Trail, is the hospital’s way of providing flu shots to more people in an environment that also decreases the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

“Anything outdoors from COVID-19, there is definitely less chance of capturing and contracting COVID-19. And this is a wonderful example. You are completely outdoors and you have people basically with the full gear, protecting these people from contracting and spreading the infection. So, this is the right setting to get the vaccination," said Dr. Al Akhrass.

He said the importance of the flu shot is more heightened this year due to the pandemic. He also said, since the vaccine takes around two weeks to kick in, getting the shot during October is the best bet for immunity when the virus is at its height.

“This is the time to get the flu shot. And this is more important than ever,” he said. “We believe that COVID-19 is going to flare again. We are going, basically, to a third wave now. Especially with the winter coming. And if you have the flu and the COVID-19 all together, there are gonna be definitely drastic consequences."

While the preventative measures set in place against COVID-19, such as hand washing and wearing masks, are also good practice for avoiding influenza, Dr. Al Ahkrass says people can do more. Since there is a vaccine for the flu, Dr. Al Akhrass urges people to take advantage of it in order to keep themselves and the community safe.

“Let’s get vaccinated. Let’s protect ourselves and the community from the flu amid COVID-19," he said. "And, hopefully, we’ll be able to find vaccination soon for COVID-19 and we’ll be turning that chapter over.”

The drive-thru is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Anyone 18 or older is accepted through the drive-thru. Insurance is accepted, with no co-pay, and anyone without insurance can pay $30 out of pocket. Free COVID testing is also still available in the drive-thru.

PMC is also offering flu shots every Friday at the South Williamson Primary care facility, the Whitesburg clinic, and Prestonsburg Primary Care.

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