Public Health Madison & Dane County opened a free drive through flu clinic Tuesday at Alliant Energy Center to provide the Dane County community with flu vaccines, according to a news release from PHMDC.

According to the news release, the clinic provides for adults and children six months or older without health insurance and children who have BadgerCare or Medicaid.

The clinic will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 8 p.m. and Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Schools of Nursing from both the University of Wisconsin and Edgewood College will help run the clinic.

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It is located at 1919 Alliant Energy Center Way, and will remain open until Nov. 21 or until supplies run out, PHMDC said. 

The news release said the clinic allows community members to receive flu vaccines without having to leave their cars. Receiving a flu vaccine at the clinic does not require making an appointment or presenting an ID or immigration status. Free transportation and interpreters are also available. 

According to the news release, anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days, as well as those in need of or waiting on results from a COVID-19 test, will not be able to receive a flu vaccine.

UW students can also get free flu shots through University Health Services by scheduling an appointment on their website. The flu shots at UHS are administered by VaxPro, a company founded by UW alumni.

The PHMDC news release said the 2020 flu season could cause “severe illness and an overwhelmed healthcare system” amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

PHMDC Immunization Coordinator Sarah Hughes said in the news release they hope to prevent this by providing community members with a convenient and free option to get vaccines before the flu spreads in Dane County.

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UW Vice Chair for research in family medicine and community health Bruce Barrett said no one knows exactly what this flu season will bring.

Barrett said people’s behaviors regarding COVID-19 guidelines matter now more than ever because of this uncertainty.

Barrett said if enough people get flu vaccines, it can make a dramatic difference in the number of hospitalizations and deaths this year. One of the most important reasons to get a flu vaccine is that it can reduce transmission and protect those most vulnerable. 

“You can be a part of an effort to save more than 10,000 lives by getting a flu shot,” Barrett said.

UW medical history and bioethics associate professor Paul Kelleher said at a time when everyone’s health is at risk, it’s important to ensure we lessen the burden on individuals’ health and the burden on health systems right now.

If you contract the flu after receiving the vaccine, Kelleher said hospitalization and serious symptoms are less likely.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that during last year’s flu season the illness killed between 24,000 and 62,000 people in the United States.

“Having been vaccinated you can still get the flu, but it’s very common for that bout of illness to be much less severe if you’ve had a flu shot,” Kelleher said. “There are many people out in the world who can be severely harmed by contracting that particular illness.”