Last semester I participated in a day long flu clinic at Cambridge Hospital in Cambridge, MA. The clinic was ran by the hospital which is a government owned facility that receives funding from state and federal grants. The flu clinic served children, adults, and geriatric clients whose primary care providers fell under the same health network that ran Cambridge Hospital.
The clinic was operated by ten nurses, two coordinators, and two pediatricians who helped give the seasonal flu vaccine to over 200 adults and children. My role during the day was to at first help organize the room where the shots were going to be given. Along with the nurses, I helped to meticulously organize the different dosages of the flu vaccine into separate stations. The infant, pediatric, and the adult doses were all arranged in separate locations. The nurses warned me that if they got mixed up, the side effects could potentially be deadly, especially if a child were to receive the adult dose. After we organized the room, I helped organize the VIS (Vaccine Information Sheets) by languages. The VIS forms were available in Spanish, Portuguese, and in Haitian Creole.
When the event officially began, I was placed at the check-in table and met the majority of the families who came for their flu shot. I made sure they understood the VIS forms, and helped with filling out the pre-screening sheet that was a mandatory component in receiving the free shot. The sheet asked about previous medical history and any adverse reactions to prior flu vaccinations. If the patients were not sure about certain answers, due to language or knowledge, the flu clinic staff offered two options: 1. A nurse who spoke the patient’s native language or 2: an opportunity to speak with the on-site physicians to discuss the treatment plan.
Although I was not able to administer the flu vaccines, I learned a lot about the cultural aspect of nursing care. Cambridge Hospital understood the population it was going to serve with this clinic and in turn properly staffed the team with a nurse practitioner who was proficient in their language and competent in helping make a medical decision. The event was a great learning experience; and I hope to help out with more community based flu clinics in the future.