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UC Davis School of Medicine

UC Davis School of Medicine

Flu Crew Team of medical students provides free vaccinations

Posted on January 9, 2013

Called the “Flu Crew Team,” the students partnered with the UC Davis Department of Pharmacy and the Sacramento County Division of Public Health to provide the free vaccinations in November and December. The team offered them at seven community clinics in the Sacramento area where students provide free care to uninsured, low-income and other underserved populations.

Flu Crew
Christopher Nguyen was among the members of the Flu Crew Team.

Student Debbie Chen thought of organizing the Flu Crew Team after hearing about a similar group of medical students at the Stanford University School of Medicine. A former high-school classmate of Chen, who is at Stanford’s medical school, told her that a group of Stanford medical students provides the vaccinations for many of the university’s employees and students. The Stanford group offers the vaccinations at dining halls around the campus. In addition, the group provides the vaccinations to various underserved groups in the area.

Chen wanted to assemble a group of fellow first-year students and pursue the same approach, aimed at underserved populations in the Sacramento area. Ed Dagang, manager of the Student-Run Clinics Program, approved of the idea and approached UC Davis pharmacist Sylvia Wong and Kate McAuley, immunization assistance program coordinator for Sacramento County, for their advice. 

McAuley arranged for the county to provide the vaccine to the students at no charge. According to Chen, McAuley was glad to hear that the Flu Crew Team would offer the vaccine to populations that the county normally does not reach. A total of 31 first-year students took training online or in person to become certified to give flu vaccinations.

Tonya Fancher, associate professor of internal medicine, and Wetona Suzanne Eidson-Ton, associate clinical professor of family and community medicine, served as faculty advisors for the team. They helped Chen develop a survey to track who received the vaccine and selected socioeconomic characteristics, and served as preceptors at each of the flu-vaccination events.

Fliers publicized the availability of the free vaccinations at each of the community clinics, where members of the Flu Crew Team asked patients in the waiting areas if they would like to receive vaccinations. Most of the clinics are open once a week, on Saturdays or Sundays.

However, Chen said, because the clinic in Knights Landing is open only once a month, the students called the clinic’s regular patients by phone to let them know about the free vaccinations. Students also spread the word by going door-to-door in the community, where Yolo County supplied the flu vaccine.

Chen said that 50-75 percent of the patients approached agreed to receive vaccinations. In Knights Landing, the figure was close to 100 percent. The majority of the patients indicated that they had not received flu vaccinations in more than a year, and 17 percent had never received the flu vaccine. Seventy-one percent of the patients were uninsured.