September 18, 2018

Flulapalooza set for Sept. 26

by Tavia Smith

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is ready for its eighth annual mass influenza vaccination event, set for Wednesday, Sept. 26, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the area between Light Hall and the Veteran’s Administration Hospital.

Faculty, staff, students and volunteers from the Medical Center and Vanderbilt University are encouraged to receive a flu shot during the 12-hour event.

This year’s event will continue to offer three vaccine choices: high-dose, recommended for those age 65 and older, egg-free for those with egg allergies and standard Quadrivalent (the four-component vaccine).

Last year, 13,938 vaccinations were given at Flulapalooza.

 “Getting your annual flu vaccination is one of the most important things you can do to prevent the flu," said Lori Rolando, MD, MPH, director of the Vanderbilt Occupational Health Clinic (OHC). “Flulapalooza provides a great opportunity to encourage awareness of and easy, quick access to flu vaccination for the Vanderbilt community.“

While preparations are underway, organizers are seeking more than 300 volunteers to serve as vaccinators, vaccinator helpers, documenters and patient greeters to work either a two-hour or four-hour shift.

All employees can participate as volunteers and should receive prior approval from their supervisor before volunteering for shifts. Registration information can be found here. 

“Volunteering to be a part of the Flulapalooza staff is a wonderful — and really fun — way to help protect co-workers, friends, and patients, and bring the community together,” Rolando said. “Whether participating in Flulapalooza by getting your flu shot or by volunteering (or both), everyone involved plays an integral role in making the event a success.”

The vaccination is a requirement for all Medical Center employees, and Flulapalooza works to facilitate the process. The emphasis is on convenience, access and ease, Rolando said.

Getting the flu shot at Flulapalooza is quicker than walking to Occupational Health, or an off-site location, she added.

The event also gives employees and volunteers a head start on protection from a potentially aggressive flu season.

Flu season in the United States can begin as early as October and last until May, according to the CDC, which recommends that everyone at least 6 months old should be vaccinated to protect themselves and those around them from the flu.

Catherine Qian, NP, manager of OHC, said each year the Flulapalooza planning committee works to create a festival-like tone to make the event both efficient and fun for all involved.

“Everyone loves to meet their co-workers or friends in a festive-like atmosphere inside the tent, get their Flulapalooza stickers and share their selfies on Twitter or Instagram,” Qian said. 

Each year, the goal of Flulapalooza is to vaccinate more people.

“We would like to be able to give more flu shots than last year: the more we give, the better we can protect our patients, co-workers and even our loved ones,” she said.

For those unable to attend Flulapalooza, OHC will also offer flu shots at its sixth floor location in the Medical Arts Building.

All current employees must comply and receive the flu shot by Monday, Dec. 3, 2018.  

Organizers said faculty and staff receiving flu vaccine outside of OHC can electronically self-report on the OHC website in order to be counted in a department’s vaccination rate. If the provider is outside Vanderbilt, documentation of the vaccine must be provided. The electronic form to self-report is available via the OHC website, Rolando said.

Flulapalooza began in 2011 as a way to test the Medical Center’s emergency mass vaccination plan and has evolved into an efficient way to assure Vanderbilt’s employees, patients, students and volunteers are protected from the flu. During the first year VUMC became the Guinness world record holder for the most vaccinations given in one location in an eight-hour period, administering 12,850 flu shots.

TIPS:

• Wear short sleeves or have sleeves rolled up

• Don’t forget your Vanderbilt University/Medical Center ID badge

• Stagger staff participation

Submit exemption request by Oct. 1

• Food and drink are not allowed in the tent.