Small Gym, Big Immunity

The Parker Flu Vaccine Clinic returns


Photo credit: Uma Morris

Parker community members gather in the small gym for the annual flu vaccine clinic.

Some kids show off their bandages and look through the lolli-pops for their favorite flavor while others cry inconsolably at their parent’s side. The small gym echoes with the flutter of paper forms and smells of alcohol antibacterial. The room in which PE classes typically take place has been transformed into the annual Parker Family Flu Vaccine Clinic.

This event took place on Thursday, September 22, from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. in the small gym. The clinic was open to Parker’s students, families, and other affiliates. The price was $37.00 per vaccination and a wide range of payment methods and insurance companies were accepted. Because of its convenience, the Parker flu vaccine clinic encourages people to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others from the flu. Mike McPharlin, a fifth grade teacher at Parker, attended the clinic with his children. “It’s an important thing to get the flu vaccine or any vaccines, so the more we can make it convenient for families and for people to do, the better,” he said. 

For the past ten years, ISR Consulting has been coming to give flu vaccines to the Parker community, but their services don’t end there. They also provide additional resources for the teachers, such as tests for tuberculosis and vaccines for both the flu and Hepatitis B.

Ilene Rubinstein, the owner of ISR Consulting, believes that being a teacher is a potentially dangerous job if they aren’t well protected against these diseases. “If there’s a blood spill in the classroom, or there’s someone that’s vomited, you need to be able to assist them,” she said. “So you need to protect yourself as best you can.”

ISR Consulting provides health services in many different places other than Parker, such as private companies, police and fire departments, and factory settings. “We do about 16,000 flu shots in a season,” Rubinstein said. They start administering flu vaccines around September and then finish up after Thanksgiving.

This year, the vaccine that was given (the Quadrivalent flu vaccine) includes four different strains of the flu, based on what they think will hit the United States in January. “Every year, depending on what the strains are in other parts of the world, we put together the compilation of at least four strains to cover anybody that’s traveling,” Rubinstein said. The reason we get flu vaccines every year is because the dominant strains of the flu virus change all the time.

Researchers use data from other countries to predict how to make the vaccine effective for our flu season. “They go by Australia, which is in their winter season now. So they’ve done their flu shots, and their flu cases are pretty high. So after Australia, it’ll be us, and they think we’ll probably get similar variants to what they got,” Parker Nurse Anne Nelson said.

“A lot of people have the mistaken idea that if they get the flu vaccine, they’ll get a slight case of the flu,” Nelson said. She explained that the flu vaccine simply stimulates the immune system and doesn’t give you the actual virus. According to her, this year’s flu season is expected to be worse than normal, and with everyone being unmasked, there will be more transmission. “This [vaccine] won’t prevent you from getting the flu, but it’ll lessen it if you do get it.”

It is common for people, especially young babies, children, people with asthma, and older people, to be hospitalized because of the flu, but that doesn’t mean that otherwise healthy people are unaffected by the virus. “People die every year from the flu. So if you can prevent that, it’s worth it.”