Sunday, November 1, 2009

Got my flu shot at the MinuteClinic

There are now two things you can do in Massachusetts that you can't do in Rhode Island: marry your same-sex partner and get a flu shot. Two reasons why the Bay State has it all over the Ocean State.

This morning, I took a half-hour drive to lovely Fall River, Mass., to get a seasonal flu shot at a MinuteClinic in a CVS pharmacy. I just filled out a form with my insurance information and another form with some basic medical information and I was out of there in about an hour.

I thought I could get a flu shot from my primary-care physician in Rhode Island, as I do every year. I prefer it that way. Unfortunately, the vaccine is in short supply here. My physician's office ran out and suggested I call drugstores to see whether any of them were offering flu-shot clinics.

It's ironic that the doctor's office would direct me to a drugstore for medical care and that I ultimately ended up getting my flu shot at a MinuteClinic, because the Rhode Island Medical Society has opposed allowing them in the state.

Dr. Frederic V. Christian, formerly head of the RIMS, said “To the extent that MinuteClinic has the effect of diverting patients from primary care, MinuteClinic will become a disruptive player in Rhode Island, potentially undermining doctor-patient relationships, and contributing to the fragmentation and ill-coordination of health care services.”

I understand the need to develop a relationship with a primary-care physician and I have a good one. But what happens when your doctor can't provide the health-care service you need - and the MinuteClinic can? (And how does CVS obtain the flu vaccine that Rhode Island can't get?)

Thank goodness I live near another state that's more forward-thinking and I have the ability to get in my car and drive there. What happens to people who don't have that ability?


Pam said...

My older daughter and I managed to get our flu shots at the YMCA a few weeks ago, but my younger daughter wasn't with us. I thought I wasn't going to be able to get one for her. It didn't occur to me to simply cross the border into MA. I assumed it was the same everywhere. Silly me. I should have know better.

Esther said...

Yeah, it wouldn't have occurred to me either to go to Massachusetts. I figured nobody had the vaccine. I was surprised when I checked the MinuteClinic web site and it said flu shots were available at this store in Fall River. I even called to make sure. They seemed to have plenty - there were people behind me in line.

If you go, I would call the pharmacy, tell them you're coming from Rhode Island and ask if they have it. (It was the CVS on President Avenue. Very easy to get to. It's in a shopping plaza.)

You would think this would be one thing our health-care system could get right. Sigh.

Pam said...

I checked the website after reading your post and it says they have a low supply. I'll call this afternoon after my daughter gets home from school and see if they have any left. *sigh*

Kirie said...

I'm with you--made the half hour trip to that same minute clinic to get seasonal flu shots for my daughters and me because our primary care doc in Rhode Island didn't have any left, and was saying no more were on the way, either. Ugh.

I made some calls, and started getting concerned when I found that the Fall River site was only clinic in 50 miles that would give a shot to a three year old. I took my oldest daughter out of school, and we made the trek out there a few weeks ago. Now I'm hoping to be able to go there for the H1N1 as well. They seem pretty confident they will be getting a decent sized shipment sometime in the next week. And my primary care? Well, as much as I like my doc personally, I am disgusted at their lack of concern...

Esther said...

Hey Kirie, thanks for the comment. I usually respond promptly but I must have missed yours. Sorry. I ended up getting my H1N1 shot at CVS, too. I agree, the lack of concern on the part of primary care physicians is outrageous and the reason we need these MinuteClinics in Rhode Island!