What is the most efficient procedure to immunize large groups of people? This is an interesting question, especially considering the potential need to distribute vast amounts of medicine in the case of a terrorist attack. Since the CDC’s Vaccinations for Children (VFC) program recommended flu shots for that all children age six months and to 5 years, and many children between ages 5 and 18, we can see how best to vaccinate a large group of people in this setting. Influenza vaccinations are only effective for one year, so there will be a recurring demand each fall.
On Saturday I observed a mass immunization at a suburban San Diego health care facility. Without question, these mass immunizations were significantly more efficient than flu shots distributed via a walk-in clinic setting or a typical well-child visit. The entire procedure (i.e.: taking the patient’s temperature, performing basic paperwork and having the nurse administer the shot) only took about 10-15 minutes. No physicians were needed to supervise the process and thus this system was much less expensive. Well-child visits typically take at least 45 minutes when you take into account the time spent in the waiting room, time spent with a nurse in the pre-exam room, and the time spent with the physician.
Pharmacies also offer a cost-effective setting for immunizations. Most pharmacies are conveniently located for consumers and the cost to administer the shots in this setting are lower than the costs in a physician’s office. Further, firms such as Long’s, CVS, and others believe that flu shots are an effective means to create foot traffic and customer loyalty.