A number of Port Stephens GPs will begin offering drive-through influenza (flu) vaccinations this week in a bid to help ease pressure on hospitals and other health services battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bay Doctors is one clinic that began operating a flu vaccination drive-through service this week, out of Bays Holiday Park in Anna Bay, which Dr Jodie Yapp said was a way GPs in the area were attempting to get ahead of flu season while protecting vulnerable members of the community from the risk of contracting COVID-19.
"Like many other practices in the Bay we're going this way to reduce the risk of particularly elderly and vulnerable patients coming into contact with COVID-19," Dr Yapp said.
"We're trying to get as many people vaccinated for flu early and there's a higher demand on flu clinics this year.
"The drive-through option for us was the best way to do this - to keep people distanced while we deliver the vaccinations.
"We are still doing flu clinics in the surgery because some people don't have a vehicle to do a drive-through clinic or have small children."
Vaccinations are by appointment. On the time of the appointment, a person will drive in to the park to the designated tent, register and have the flu vaccination through the vehicle window.
Bay Doctors' drive-through vaccination service will operate three days a week, 9am to 5pm. Demand for the service will dictate how long it operates for.
The drive-through clinic opened Wednesday and will run Thursday, April 16 and Friday, April 17 then Monday, April 20 Tuesday, April 21 and Thursday, April 23.
Nelson Bay Plaza Clinic will begin offering a drive-through flu vaccination service at Tomaree Sports Complex this week for patients aged 65 and above.
The clinic will operated Wednesday to Friday. More dates will be added this week to include children and patients with chronic health conditions. The service is by appointment only.
It is expected more clinics will announce their vaccination services starting this week.
"People might wonder why they would need to get the flu shot because it doesn't protect against COVID but we're just trying to lessen the burden on the health system of people getting sick with influenza, and ending up in hospital or taking up ICU beds," Dr Yapp said.
"We want to save those for possible increased COVID cases."
Flu vaccinations are provided free through the government for people aged over 65, children under 5, anyone living with a chronic medical condition, are Indigenous or pregnant women.
Meanwhile, this week Raymond Terrace Family Practice began operating as a community respiratory clinic.
These clinics are aimed at helping triage patients with mild-to-moderate fever and respiratory symptoms, and ensure appropriate assessment, diagnosis, testing and management.