Hundreds in Wichita Receive Free Flu Shots

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

During her five years of being uninsured, Stacie Thompson has at times had to sacrifice some healthcare services in order to pay for groceries and other essentials.

"I've had to avoid going to the doctor," Thompson said.

So, when Thompson heard she could get a free flu shot at the Lord's Diner Saturday, it was a big deal to her.

"It's a great opportunity," Thompson said. "I would have had to go to Dillons or Walgreens and I think it's about $40. That's a lot of money, especially when you are unemployed."

For Thompson and others, like local artist Randy Regier, a free flu shot means keeping money in their pocket.

"That's 40 bucks I can spend on something else," Regier said.

The free flu vaccinations were offered Saturday at the Lord's Diner and at the Guadalupe Clinic as part of Operation Immunization. The event is put on each year by the The University of Kansas School of Pharmacy with the support of the United Way. The shots were available to people who are unemployed, uninsured, or unable to pay.

"We want to be sure everyone has access to free influenza vaccinations," said Robert Emerson, Associate Dean of the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy regional campus.

The event is also an educational program for students.

"It's nice to see what we're learning in the classroom is applicable to real-life situations and real-life opportunities," student Mandilyn Phillips said.

The program has grown over the past five years. This year, it not only included pharmacy school students but also medicine and nursing school students.

And, those students had more resources than ever this year thanks to $13,260 in financial support from the United Way. That money allowed them to purchase 1,000 doses of the flu vaccine. The support of the United Way also allowed them to offer two vaccination locations for the first time.

"We got super excited just being able to help twice as many people," Phillips said.

And help them they did.

Thompson especially benefited from the event. Not only did she receive a free flu shot but she also received a free health screening that turned out to be very revealing.

"I just found out today that I have high blood pressure and my blood sugars are really high," Thompson said.

She says after the students provided her with that information, they linked her up with the Guadalupe Clinic, which helps provide healthcare to those on low incomes.

She says everything she received and learned Saturday has made her feel much better about her health.

"They did a real great job," Thompson said.

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