Easthampton, Northampton offer drive-thru flu shots (with treats!) this Halloween

  • Juliet Chiu, 7, gets her influenza vaccine on Oct. 17 at a drive-thru clinic at Exposition Park in Los Angeles. AP PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 10/27/2020 2:55:12 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Halloween can be a spooky time, but the city’s Health Department is trying its best to make sure that the flu doesn’t get too scary this year.

A drive-thru flu clinic will be held at the Fire Department on 32 Payson Ave. from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Halloween. The clinic is open to everyone 9 and up, but those who want to take part in the clinic must register by Friday, the day before. Both normal and high-dose vaccines will be available and attendees will receive the flu shot while staying in their vehicles. Face coverings will be required and available for those who don’t have them.

Those interested in the vaccination can register at easthamptonma.gov/index.php/health-department (scroll down) and those with questions can call the department at 413-529-1400 ext. 430.

Bri Eichstaedt, the city’s health agent, said the city’s last public flu clinic on Oct. 10 was well received, though the city would like as many people as possible to be vaccinated.

“There was a need for a second one,” Eichstaedt said.

Getting COVID-19 and the flu at the same time could  make things worse for people, Eichstaedt noted.  Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, she said, the department is trying to keep hospital beds open.

The vaccine helps to prevent the flu, and can make symptoms milder if one contracts the disease. Eichstaedt said that, so far, flu season has been pretty quiet.

Those getting shots should bring insurance cards, and those without insurance can pay for the vaccine with cash or check, at the cost of $39.99 for the regular vaccine and $69.99 for the high-dose vaccine, which is offered to those 65 and older.

Costumes will be welcome at the clinic, and candy will be handed out in pre-filled bags.

“Costumes are welcome, for sure, and encouraged,” Eichstaedt said.

The clinic will be held at the same time as the Fire Department’s drive-thru open house.

“It really was a springboard off of the flu clinic,” said Fire Chief Christopher Norris.

At the open house, fire department personnel will hand out safety materials on issues such as checking smoke detector batteries and the functionality of carbon monoxide detecting units when changing clocks back, which happens this coming weekend.

A drive-thru flu clinic will also be held in Northampton on Halloween from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School on 80 Locust St.

“You stay in your car the entire time,” said Northampton Director of Public Health Merridith O’Leary.

The Northampton clinic will serve those ages 3 and up, and people are being asked to bring their insurance information, although some vouchers will be available for those without insurance. Face coverings are required, although they will be available onsite for those who don’t have them.

Pre-registration is not required, but those planning to attend are encouraged to fill out registration forms ahead of time, which can be found at northamptonma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/16011/2020-Vaccine-Administration-Record.

As in Easthampton, costumes will be encouraged and pre-packaged candy will be handed out.

Outside of the spooky season, the Holyoke Board of Health has drive-thru flu clinics scheduled for Nov. 3 and Nov. 6 at Holyoke Community College.

Both clinics will run from 8 to 11 a.m. at Parking Lot M next to HCC’s Bartley Center for Athletics and Recreation. Registration is not required but is encouraged and can be done at hcc.edu/about/news-events-and-media/news-stories/flu-clinics.

Face masks will be available on site.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

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