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Care in a Time of COVID-19: Drive Thru Health

The Suquamish Tribe Community Health Program recently hosted creative drive-thru events to meet various community health needs. In the midst of these challenging and uncertain times, the Suquamish Tribe has offered drive-thru flu shots for both adults and children, COVID-19 tests, swag bags from health vendors, and a chance for safe community connection.

The drive-thru flu shot events took place over the course of several days:

  • 10/5- Elders and elder spouses only

  • 10/7- Tribal households (adults and children)

  • 10/14- Open invitation to Tribal families and employees

Prior to the three formal events, Suquamish Tribe Community Health Program offered a drive-thru flu clinic to Tribal casino employees.

The drive-thru flu clinics were positively received by the community. They distributed approximately 400 flu shots, over double the amount distributed in 2019. By adapting immunization distribution to a drive-thru setup, Suquamish was able to prioritize patient and provider safety. Nurse, Barbara Hoffman explains, “we were in close contact for very short periods of time." This model has worked really well for the Suquamish Tribe and they have used a similar setup to distribute masks and food in the past.

Not only did the Suquamish Tribe double their flu shot distribution, they also took steps to prepare for the future. Hoffman shares, “this is a good test run for COVID vaccines.” The Suquamish Tribe is thinking creatively and proactively, working through the challenges of a new distribution process, in hopes to create a safe and smooth system to distribute COVID-19 vaccines when available.

Advice for others considering a drive-thru approach to immunizations:

  1. Have extra hands on deck. Make sure you have enough people to manage the traffic.

  2. Pick a location where people are used to going. The Suquamish Tribe used the House of Awakened Culture, a location community members are familiar with.

  3. Have bathrooms available and accessible.

  4. If possible, send out consent forms ahead of time. This is will allow the drive-thru to go much faster.

  5. Get pre-drawn flu vaccines. Pre-drawn flu vaccines will save time and allow for a more stream-lined process.

  6. Advertise your event! The Suquamish Tribe utilized the resource “Suquamish Updates Now”, a text message system that directly notified people before-hand and the day of the event. They also shared event info via the Tribal Facebook page, and encouraged people to share their experience by posting photos.

The Suquamish Tribe looks forward to offering creative distribution sites in the future to meet community health needs. If you have questions about the Suquamish Tribe Community Health Program, please contact Barbara Hoffman, DNP, RN, CDE at

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