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Veggies & Vaccines: IU Health adds free flu shots to mobile produce delivery

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When Indiana University Health’s Garden on the Go(r) mobile produce delivery truck makes its rounds this week, it will be supplying more than just flu-fighting vegetables. Through a partnership with the Marion County Public Health Department to supply the vaccines, IU Health will be providing free flu shots at 15 Garden on the Go stops Nov. 18-22. This unique Veggies & Vaccines campaign means people living in underserved areas of the Indianapolis community will not only receive low-cost produce, but a flu shot free of charge.

“It is IU Health’s goal to bring healthcare into the communities that need it the most,” said Lisa Cole, manager of Indianapolis community outreach for IU Health. “Our Garden on the Go customers typically face more health challenges than the average resident, so this is precisely the population we want to reach with preventable health measures such as flu shots and healthy, affordable food options.”

IU Health provides a registered nurse to supervise the administration of flu vaccines by nursing students from the IU School of Nursing and Marian University. Leveraging these established relationships and the existing Garden on the Go programming enabled IU Health to mobilize easily and provide this service free of charge to the community.

The program was piloted in October. During that initial, weeklong deployment, 304 vaccines were administered at 20 partner locations, community centers and other stops. More than half of the recipients reported they had not received a flu vaccine in 2012.

“Proper nutrition is important to good health, but so is the seasonal flu shot,” said Virginia A. Caine, MD, director of the Marion County Public Health Department. “Through this partnership with Garden on the Go, people will have the opportunity to purchase affordable fruits and vegetables and get a flu shot to double their protection.”

Last year, 72 flu-related deaths were reported by the Indiana State Department of Health. Access, cost and hours of operation are often cited as barriers to receiving the vaccine and so the Veggies & Vaccines campaign aims to address those issues by taking flu shots to the vulnerable populations during key times chosen by community partners at no cost to the public.

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