Flu shots in the time of COVID-19 

Adam Abdulally, MD, MedExpress


MedExpress is a leader in delivering high-quality, convenient and affordable care for those seeking medical treatment for illness and injury.

MedExpress also offers treatment for workplace injury and job-related medical issues to employers and their employees through its Employer Health Services program.

The company operates full-service, walk-in health care facilities that are open 12 hours per day, seven days a week. There are no appointments. Patients can just walk in when it’s convenient for them.

MedExpress focuses on the needs of patients and provides Great Care. Fast.® with caring, friendly employees and health care that is fast, but never rushed.

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As we prepare to enter the first flu season since the arrival of COVID-19, clinicians and patients are facing an unknown challenge. This year, maximizing flu shot uptake for patients will be critical.

Our approach to flu shot promotions will be different as well. Creating safe delivery spaces that efficiently provide vaccines in an environment where essential supplies and staff are tight, in spaces that draws patients in, will require creativity.

Influenza is a predictable burden for patients and our health care system, but this year the flu will come at a time when our facilities and clinicians are already under extreme stress. Reducing cases of the flu has never been more important.

Though this will be our first true season of the flu compounding COVID-19, we can assume that the comorbid illnesses will create more severe illness. We also know that the flu is taxing on our strained health care resources.

Fortunately, our COVID-19 experience has taught us great flexibility and innovation. Success in delivering flu shots depends on a multi-pronged approach taking advantage of the new format of care delivery.


Pluck all the low-hanging fruit

Every point that patients are seen in-person should offer flu shots. Primary and specialty clinics, urgent care and hospital care all must be prepared and offer flu shots to appropriate patients.

Offer flu-shot clinics at high-traffic areas

Some healthy patients are still reluctant to seek in-person care, but we all go to the grocery store. Small clinic set-ups in these high-traffic areas may catch patients in areas they frequent. Heightened health awareness since COVID-19 may encourage the use of these community locations.

Repurpose drive through health for immunizations

Patients have become comfortable with the idea of health care delivery via drive-through. The model has proved safe for clinicians and patients regarding transmission of COVID-19. Delivering the shot to the upper arm through a car window has potential for a safe adaptation trusted by patients.

Cultivate creative partnerships

Community-based solutions are often most effective. Businesses like UberHEALTH have partnered with care delivery systems to bring flu shots to homes and offices.


As we move into the fall with COVID-19, an active problem consuming attention and resources, it is essential that we do not forget disease prevention efforts, like flu vaccines. 

By planning a new and effective approach to flu vaccines, clinicians have a big role to play in remediating potential harms of a challenging flu.

In the environment of unknown, it is more important than ever that we complete our tried and true protective measures. Flu shots are a low-cost, low-risk intervention that save lives.

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This publication is informational and for educational purposes for practitioners only. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Optum Care. The views and opinions expressed may change without notice. 
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