Fighting Influenza with Drive-thru Flu Clinics and Masks


Nicole Bailey-Covin

The Macon-Bibb County Health Department is encouraging people to take the annual flu shot.

 It’s not uncommon for people to put off getting their annual flu shot. However, this year is an uncommon year. With COVID-19 also attacking the health of Georigians, it is recommended that people not wait to fight Influenza by getting their flu shots.

The Macon-Bibb County Health Department is making it quick and easy to get the flu shot without ever leaving the car.  The health department is offering two drive-thru flu clinics at its Emery Highway location on Oct. 8 and Oct. 22.  Flu shots will be given at the front of the health department building. Drive-thru participants are asked to wear a face mask covering both the nose and mouth when receiving flu shots. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends for everyone aged six months or older to receive flu shots. People age 65 and older are recommended to get a high-dose vaccine to increase immune system response to the virus. Since it can take the body  around two weeks to build up immunity after receiving a flu shot, it is best to get vaccinated before flu season usually begins. 

The CDC reports flu season usually begins in October and can last through May, peaking between December and February.  However, this year  doctors have reported seeing cases of the flu as early as late August. Health officials said  this is all the more reason  to take advantage of the health departments drive-thru opportunity. 

“Flu shots are an important part of keeping our community safe, healthy and happy,” said Macon-Bibb County Health Department Nurse Manager Veronica Dumas-Dewberry. “Our drive-thru clinics give everyone in our county a chance to conveniently receive their annual vaccine.” 

Along with Flu shot, an individual can reduce the chance of spreading influenza by taking these steps to prevent the spread of germs: 

  • Avoid contact with sick people. 
  • If you begin to experience flu-like symptoms, stay home for 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or other necessities. 
  • Always cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze and throw away used tissues immediately. 
  • If you do not have tissues, sneeze and cough into the crook of your elbow, then make sure to wash clothing to kill germs. 
  • Keep your hands clean by washing with soap and warm water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 
  • Do not touch your mouth, nose or eyes. 
  • Regularly disinfect surfaces and objects (countertops, children’s toys) that may be contaminated with germs. 
  • Keep at least 6 feet from others in public spaces. 
  • Use a face mask to cover your nose and mouth in spaces where distancing is difficult or impossible.  

As for the success rate of face masks and social distancing, doctors  point to the surprisingly low case rate of the flu in the southern hemisphere of the world.  Director of Graduate Programs at Mercer University’s College of  Pharmacy Dr. Martin D’Souza said there is a reason for the strangely mild  flu season for places like: Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and Peru. 

“They, of course, all practice strictly mask wearing, and they came out of this flu season, shockingly well. In fact, they found the flu had literally disappeared, and when they analyzed that, it was very encouraging, and the only reason you could attribute that to was social distancing, and wearing a mask,” he said.

D’Souza hopes the Northern Hemisphere can have a similar mild flu season too. He believes if everyone participates in mask wearing and social distancing, that could also lead to a reverse in COVID-19 cases. 

Flu shots given during the drive-thru clinics are at no cost for people who have insurance because companies will be billed the cost. To pay out of pocket ,or as an uninsured visitor, the cost is $25 for a regular dose flu shot, and $55 for a high dose vaccine for those who are aged 65 or older. For more information on accepted insurances and service fees, visit