GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Encouraging people to get their flu shots and other vaccines in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Spectrum Health has opened some 40 curbside clinics around West Michigan.

The curbside services include vaccinations for 16 illnesses, including the flu, as well as B12 injections and other things like blood pressure checks and strep tests. You can schedule an appointment online. The locations are spread across 12 counties.

Spectrum acknowledged a trend in people wanting to avoid the doctor’s office or hospital amid COVID-19 concerns and said the new option alleviates those concerns.

“From January until August, we did see some drops in our immunization rates,” immunization program specialist Mary Zimmerman said. “They weren’t significant. They were about 5% drops, but what we were really seeing was a 25% decrease in immunization visits and so we knew projecting forward that we were going to continue to see those drop if we didn’t do something.”

The program was piloted over the summer. Already, Spectrum is seeing a 3% bump in immunizations.

Once someone has arrived for an appointment, signage will walk them through the check-in process and a staff member will meet them at their car. 

“We’ve gotten wonderful feedback from the patients. Change is always a little bit hard for clinical staff, but they’ve jumped right in and been great,” Zimmerman said.

The Grand Rapids-based hospital system says it may offer more services curbside in the future.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state health officials are urging people to get the flu vaccine to prevent a surge in cases and help keep hospitals from being overburdened during the coronavirus pandemic. Its goal is to have 1 million more people get vaccinated than last year.

“Since there’s no vaccine for COVID-19 (yet), there is one for influenza and if we can prevent what’s preventable then we can help decrease those burdens on the hospitals,” Zimmerman added.