Canada (Queens University) Protecting the community from the flu

Canada got away with a relatively mild flu season the past two years, but public health experts are warning influenza could be back in full force this winter. With colder weather around the corner, Queen’s nursing students are stepping up to help protect members of the South Frontenac community by running two drive-through flu shot clinics in partnership with Sydenham Medical Clinic. Nursing students administered more than 400 vaccinations at the first clinic in late October and then gave 530 more at the second clinic on Nov. 8 at the South Frontenac Public Services Department.

Two fourth-year nursing students, Nikki Griesman and Talia Ross, organized the clinics through their work for NURS 405: Practicum in Community Health Promotion, taught by Sherri Schmidt-Stutzman, Adjunct Lecturer in the Queen’s School of Nursing. To make the clinics possible, Griesman and Ross enlisted nearly two dozen other nursing students as volunteers to help register patients and give shots.

“Getting the flu shot can be a little more difficult in rural communities like South Frontenac, where getting vaccinated at a local pharmacy isn’t always an option,” says Griesman. “These drive-through clinics are connecting hundreds of community members with the flu shot in a safe and efficient manner.”

Griesman and Ross planned these clinics from the ground up, working with Sydenham Medical Clinic to choose dates, find a location, and promote the events. Wanting to make the clinics as accessible as possible, the students assessed the needs of community members and worked to reduce obstacles to the clinics. They organized the two clinics at different times of day – the first in the late morning and early afternoon, the second in the evening – to accommodate varying schedules. They also produced an infographic that they shared widely in South Frontenac and on social media to educate community members about the vaccine and address common misunderstandings about getting the shot.

“It’s so important for nursing students to help protect the health of the communities around them, and these clinics are giving all of us an opportunity to give back,” says Ross. “They’re also helping us as nursing students learn about the importance of public health and how to provide care in a rural setting rather than in a large hospital.”

Student impact on the community

These clinics make up part of Queen’s social and economic impact on the Kingston community and surrounding area, which has been measured in a study conducted by Deloitte. That study found that Queen’s students, faculty, and staff annually raise more than $1 million to support local causes. It also found that Queen’s students work thousands of volunteer hours for local causes.