August 24, 2017

Flulapalooza mass vaccination event set for Sept. 27

What do 16,000 Band-Aids, 72 bottles of hand gel, 36 flat sheets, 30 trashcans, two wheelchairs, one crash cart and a 140-foot by 40-foot tent signal?

The total number of vaccinations given during last year’s Flulapalooza was 14,165. (file photo by Joe Howell)

What do 16,000 Band-Aids, 72 bottles of hand gel, 36 flat sheets, 30 trashcans, two wheelchairs, one crash cart and a 140-foot by 40-foot tent signal?

It’s Flulapalooza time.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) is gearing up for its seventh annual mass influenza vaccination event, set for Wednesday, Sept. 27, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the area between Light Hall and the Veteran’s Administration Hospital.

Faculty, staff, students and volunteers from the Medical Center and Vanderbilt University are encouraged to receive a flu shot during the 12-hour event.

While preparations are underway, organizers are seeking more than 300 volunteers to serve as vaccinators, vaccinator helpers, documenters and patient greeters to work either a two-hour or four-hour shift.

All employees can participate as volunteers and should receive prior approval from their supervisor before volunteering for shifts. Registration information can be found here.

Flulapalooza began in 2011 as a way to test the Medical Center’s emergency mass vaccination plan and has evolved into an efficient way to assure Vanderbilt’s employees, patients, students and volunteers are protected from the flu. During the first year VUMC became the Guinness World Records holder for the most vaccinations given in one location in an eight-hour period, administering 12,850 flu shots.

The total number of vaccinations given during Flulapalooza 2016 was 14,165.

“The primary purpose of this annual event is for everyone to be aware of the need to get a flu shot,” said Lori Rolando, M.D., MPH, director of the Vanderbilt Occupational Health Clinic (OHC). “It is really one of the most important things you can do to prevent the flu and keep everyone healthy.

“It sounds a little funny, but people actually look forward to this tradition. It has become a fun atmosphere and a great way to bring our community together.”

The vaccination is a requirement for all Medical Center employees, and Flulapalooza works to facilitate the process. The emphasis is on convenience, access and ease, said Rolando.

“When we really look at it, it takes less time to walk through Flulapalooza than it does to go to an off-site location or even over to Occupational Health,” she said. “We have heard from so many that this is the preferred method and it’s so efficient and easy.”

This year’s event will continue to offer three vaccine choices: high-dose, recommended for those age 65 and older, egg-free for those with egg allergies and standard Quadrivalent (the four-component vaccine).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone at least 6 months old should be vaccinated to protect themselves and those around them from the flu.

Catherine Qian, N.P., manager of OHC, said Flulapalooza’s festival-like tone helps promote an inviting atmosphere.

“We have selfie stations and balloons,” said Qian. “In general people are taking pictures and chatting with co-workers while waiting to receive their shot. We try to make the environment as enjoyable and inviting as possible, but the intention is very serious.

“I am still amazed by the participation and interest in this event,” said Qian. “Each year people come with smiles, sleeves rolled up and ready for their vaccinations.”

For those unable to attend Flulapalooza, OHC will also offer flu shots at its sixth floor location in the Medical Arts Building. Additional options include the Peer Vaccination Program and upcoming mobile vaccination events. Check the OHC website for more information.

Organizers said faculty and staff receiving flu vaccine outside of OHC can electronically self-report on the OHC website in order to be counted in a department’s vaccination rate. If the provider is outside of Vanderbilt, documentation of the vaccine must be provided. The electronic form to self-report is available via the OHC website. Flu Mist, which is not available at Flulapalooza or any of the OHC stations, will not be an acceptable flu vaccine, Rolando said.

• Wear short sleeves or have sleeves rolled up

• Don’t forget your Vanderbilt ID badge

• Stagger staff participation

• Submit exemption request by Oct. 1 using the link found on the OHC website listed above.

• Avoid bringing food and drink — it is not allowed in the tent.