SALT LAKE CITY — There's been plenty of buzz about the importance of getting a flu shot this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, so dozens of families on the west side of Salt Lake City seized the opportunity at a drive-through clinic put on by the Westside Coalition.
More than 200 people rolled up their sleeves Saturday to get a free flu shot at Glendale Middle School.
The Westside Coalition wanted to make sure everybody had access to the immunization because those neighborhoods have been hard hit by COVID-19.
"This year is extra important," said Reideen Pratt, who is not rolling the dice with the flu this year.
Pratt loaded her grandkids in her van and brought them over to get immunized.
She is on medication that kills white blood cells, so she's very cautious.
"My grandkids live with me, and I just feel like it's important to have flu shots to keep them safe and me safe, especially with COVID going on," she said.
Turner Bitton is on the board of the Westside Coalition and helped organize the clinic.
"This year, it's particularly important because communities like this have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19," Bitton said.
The coalition wanted everybody in Glendale, Poplar Grove, Rose Park, Fairpark, Westpointe, and Jordan Meadows to get the protection they need from the flu, especially during the pandemic.
Right now, there are more than 1,000 active cases of COVID-19 in Salt Lake City.
Health department data showed west side neighborhoods have been heavily impacted by the pandemic, in addition to historically low vaccination rates.
"If we were to have the COVID-19 health crisis on top of a really bad flu season, our hospitals and our medical professionals could be completely overwhelmed by sick patients needing to go to the ER," he said.
Bitton said many people in west side neighborhoods work essential jobs and cannot work from home.
"The economic crisis is hitting folks who are in those essential jobs even more disproportionately," he said.
"With the pandemic, it makes it even more important to get a flu shot," said Kathrine Torres, who came by with her husband to get a shot.
Torres has not always gotten a flu shot, but she said she wants to do her part to help keep hospitals and first responders from being overwhelmed.
"If we can avoid two pandemics laid on top of each other — COVID and the flu — that's something I can do, getting a vaccine, to avoid that catastrophe from happening," she said.
Another free drive-through clinic has been set up on the west side for Nov. 7 at Mestizo Coffee on North Temple.
The Westside Coalition said they're working on scheduling a few more clinics in Murray and South Salt Lake, and another one in the Westpointe neighborhood.
More information can be found at the Coalition's website.