Turnout was light for the All-Island flu shot clinic

Jean Roma administers the vaccine to Richard Olson of Edgartown. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

An overcast fall morning on Saturday, September 22, did nothing to spur attendance at the all-Island seasonal flu clinic held at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

“We were hoping for a better turnout,” Tisbury assistant health agent Maura Valley told The Times in a phone conversation Monday.

About 630 adults and high school age youth took advantage of the free immunizations.

“Attendance was about the same as last year’s, which was very slow compared to previous years,” Ms. Valley said. “One year we had 1,600.”

The all-Island immunization event traditionally takes place in November, near Veterans Day. Ms. Valley told The Times a few weeks ago that she and the other organizers decided to move the date up this year, because many pharmacies and stores, as well as doctors’ offices, on-Island and off, now offer flu shots in September.

“We decided we would move our date up, so that people wouldn’t feel as though they should get their shots early elsewhere, perhaps for a fee, when they could get them at the Island clinic free of charge,” Ms. Valley told The Times in a phone call a few weeks ago.

The annual flu clinic offers the chance for all Vineyarders to get vaccinated and also provides a medical emergency drill for the six Island towns, to practice for a serious pandemic. Given last weekend’s turnout and the fact that it is easy for people to get their flu shots elsewhere, Ms. Valley said it may be time to rethink the all-Island event.

This year’s clinic was sponsored by the Martha’s Vineyard Medical Reserve Corps, the six Island towns’ boards of health, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, Vineyard Nursing Association, and Wampanoag Tribal Health Services, with support from the Island Councils on Aging, Dukes County government, and town police departments, Emergency Medical Services, and Emergency Managers.