For veterans living in the Treasure Valley, getting a flu shot is as easy as driving to a parking lot, rolling down a window, sticking out an arm, getting a quick stick and driving away. This is one of the most successful ways the Boise Veterans Affairs Medical Center has found to get as many vets as possible vaccinated against influenza
The VA came copied the idea from other VA's across the country, according to Josh Callihan, the health system specialist at the medical center. This is the third year the VA will offer the drive-thru clinic.
"It's really convenient for vets, which has made it very successful," Callihan said.
Giant decontamination tents usually on hand for emergencies will be set up in the parking lot of the Boise VA Medical Center
at 500 Fort St. Tuesday-Thursday, Sept. 22-24, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Veterans can wait in line in their vehicles as administrators greet each with a clipboard and gather some quick information to verify the veteran's status. Then the car can proceed into the tent, where the driver rolls down his or her window, offers up a bicep and gets the free flu shot without ever getting out of the car.
A similar drive-thru clinic will be set up at the Caldwell Community Based Outreach Clinic Wednesday, Sept. 30, and Wednesday, Oct. 7, from 9 a.m.-noon, and again from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Free flu shots are also available to veterans enrolled for care at the VA starting Tuesday, Sept. 15, at the Boise VA Medical Center outpatient entrance in building 35A from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., but that's a non-drive-thru clinic. A VA ID card is required.
Free flu shots are also available during regularly scheduled appointments and walk-ins at outreach clinics in Mountain Home, Salmon, Twin Falls and Burns.
Callihan said because flu shots for vets are free and accessible, Idaho has one of the best vaccination rates in the country.
"Last year, we vaccinated approximately 15,000 veterans," he said. "We also vaccinated approximately 86 percent of our employees, which made us the national leader of VA's on employee vaccination rate."