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Lehigh Valley Health Network offers free flu shots for 23rd year; flu shot urged during coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) will administer free seasonal flu vaccinations for the 23rd straight year for adults and children six months and older during two community sessions in November.

Shots will be all drive-through 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Nov. 7 at Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom, South Whitehall Township, and 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Nov. 8 and at Coca-Cola Park, Allentown.

For the past 22 years, LVHN’s community influenza vaccination campaign has administered nearly 180,000 free flu shots and collected more than 140,000 pounds of food for area food banks.

“Getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever this year because it can reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death,” said Alex Benjamin, MD, LVHN’s Chief Infection Control Officer.

“Getting a flu vaccine can also reduce the burden on the healthcare system responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and save medical resources for care of COVID-19 patients,” Benjamin said.

Routine vaccination should be deferred for people with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, regardless of symptoms, until they have met criteria to discontinue isolation, said Benjamin.

While having a mild illness is not a contraindication to vaccination, visits for persons with these symptoms should be postponed to avoid exposing healthcare personnel and other patients to the coronavirus.

To reduce the spread of COVID-19, adults and children age two and older in the vehicle will be required to wear a face mask or face covering.

Again this year LVHN is partnering with area food banks and shelters to accept donations of unexpired, non-perishable food items during each of the drive-through sessions. Food donations are optional and not required to receive a shot.

Those who choose to donate food are urged to check the expiration date and only bring items that have not expired and are non-perishable.

Volunteers will be collecting other items to assist those in need in our community, including diapers, personal hygiene products (toothbrushes, for example) coffee pods and wipes.

LVHN is partnering with the Allentown Health Bureau to offer online registration again this year. Slots are available for either the morning or afternoon sessions Nov. 7 and 8.

Slots are not appointments. Those reserving times may arrive at any time during the reserved time period.

Terry Burger, RN, LVHN Administrator for Infection Control and Prevention, said that a standard dose of flu vaccine will be given to those six months to 64 years of age. Burger said those 65 and older will be offered the senior vaccine.

“Anyone can get the flu,” Burger said. “Last year as many as 56 million people were sick with the flu and as many as 62,000 deaths were attributed to the disease, including 188 pediatric flu deaths, matching the highest recorded number for pediatric flu deaths reported during a regular flu season.

“Even when the vaccine doesn’t exactly match the influenza viruses in a given year, it might still provide some protection. Getting the vaccine remains the best way to protect yourself and those around you from getting the flu,” said Burger.

Vaccine supplies are available so the public should not be concerned about being able to get a shot, according to Burger.

Those planning to receive a flu shot during LVHN’s Nov. 7 and 8 drive-through vaccinations are asked to abide by the following requests:

• Dress appropriately. Loose-fitting clothing for the shot to be administered in the arm, and the leg of children under two-years-old.

• Review the vaccine information sheet and complete and bring a completed and signed 2020-2021 consent form for each person receiving a flu shot.

A vaccine information statement, consent form, link to online registration and maps of both drive-through locations are available at: www.lvhn.org/flushot. Forms may be requested by calling 888-402-LVHN (5846).