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Without annual expos, special outreach helps seniors with their annual flu shots

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The annual Senior Expo at the Earl Warren Showgrounds is off the schedule for the second year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but a direct delivery of the influenza shots is underway.

The Santa Barbara County Health Department is visiting multiple pre-scheduled sites in four days to give out the shots to seniors who may have concerns about getting their shots elsewhere. More than 300 were given out last year in a similar series of events.

Santa Barbara County Public Health, Emergency Services Planner Stacey Rosenberger is one of the coordinators. "This population may or may not make it to the expo, may or may not make it to their doctor or pharmacy, so we are really able to serve the population in their homes," she said.

Laguna Housing and Presidio Springs locations on Laguna Street in Santa Barbara are among the locations. The target sites have been senior low-income housing.

Special tables for check-in details and a brief medical chat with doctors and nurses takes place prior to the shots.

In addition to the flu shots, there are also COVID shots and Pfizer boosters available.

The shots give seniors the security they are looking for in what could be an active flu season compared to last year when the numbers were significantly down with the public largely inside or wearing masks outside.

Stacey Rosenberger says the goal is to make it "radically convenient for them to get their COVID booster or their flu shot for this year."

Jeanne West is a volunteer and received her shot at the same time. She is the Community Engagement Manager for Hospice of Santa Barbara. "The fact that it could be so convenient for everyone, they didn't have to get in the car, go to a pharmacy, wait, they're in their own home. Wonderful."

Each person meets with a nurse or doctor, including members of the Medical Reserve Corps, they fill out a form and get a personal health visit.

At the same time, they are rolling up their sleeves.

Rosenberger says, "We're anticipating a potentially worse flu season again this year, so we are urging everyone to get that flu shot.  All of our mobile clinics for COVID will also be providing flu as well, so additional opportunities for proving COVID and flu at the same time."

For more information go to Santa Barbara County Public Health.

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3. To learn more about John, click here.

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