Lee County working to make COVID-19 testing, flu shots more accessible for all communities

Avoiding two virus surges at the same time. Lee County is improving access to COVID-19 testing and flu vaccines before this year’s flu season arrives.

Deanna Thomas knows she’s high risk.

“I’m 64 and I’ve had pneumonia many times in my life, and I’ve had respiratory failure twice in 2006,” she said.

That’s why when she started feeling exhausted and unwell she came to a Lee County coronavirus testing site.

“It just was a no-brainer. The lady filled out all of the paperwork, I just signed my name and they tickle the back of your throat,” she explained.

Thomas says the site is close to her house, so coming out and getting tested was convenient. But it isn’t that easy for everyone.

“Some can’t make it to the drive-up sites, and some don’t have the means to get to doctors’ offices – so in those cases, we can bring the resources to those communities,” said Lee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Brian Hamman.

He says that’s where the Department of Health’s new mobile testing units come in, and they’re coming just in time.

Not only will the units increase access to testing, but they’ll also offer the flu shot.

“We’re preparing for the battle this coming fall whether it’s flu season or COVID season,” Hamman said.

“We’re just trying to push the flu vaccine now, so that way we don’t run into that situation where we have severe flu and COVID,” said Lee County Communicable Disease Director Jennifer Roth, because a rush of COVID-19 and flu cases could create a new crisis and overwhelm hospitals.

Lee County’s Department of Health says in the future, they hope to use the units for all kinds of health care community outreach needs like STD and HIV screenings and family planning.

Communities can also request the units come out to their neighborhoods.

Reporter:Veronica Marshall
Writer:Briana Harvath
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