Thad Schumaker, managing pharmacist

Fitchburg Family Pharmacy managing pharmacist Thad Schumaker assists a patient.

Some Fitchburg pharmacies are providing flu vaccines a little differently this year amid the pandemic, paving the way for when one is available to help prevent COVID-19.

Fitchburg Family Pharmacy managing pharmacist Thad Schumaker told the Star that while some plans for offering the flu vaccine are up in the air, staff are eyeing drive-up clinics where patients would be treated inside their vehicles. So far, the pharmacy, located at 3050 Cahill Main #6, has teamed up with the Fitchburg Senior Center to achieve just that in October. A similar setup could apply when a coronavirus vaccine is accessible to the public, Schumaker said.

To register for the senior center clinic, patients are instructed to fill out a form the day prior.

“We will just have to see what the demand is,” Schumacher said of vaccine services outside senior center offerings. “One of the benefits of being an independent business is our ability to be flexible and change to the needs of our community.”

Another pharmacy — Hy-Vee on 2920 Fitchrona Road — is providing drive-up flu shot clinics 7-11 a.m. Mondays, 3-7 p.m. Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays from Aug. 17 through Oct. 31. Patients can get other immunizations for other conditions as well, and are required to wear a mask, according to the Hy-Vee website.

For people who don’t have transportation, Schumacher said staff identifies patients to deliver to on a regular basis. He said staff find a morning or afternoon a week where they serve patients in a particular geographic area of Fitchburg. The only difference during COVID-19 is that staff is donned in protective gear.

Fitchburg Family Pharmacy has taken additional health precautions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The business has closed its indoor interior, Schumacher said, but still offers curbside pickup and delivery options for products, and patients have the option of getting other vaccines just inside the front door.

“We wanted to keep our patients safe and not be in a place where we are spreading COVID-19,” Schumacher said.

A chair awaits patients immediately inside the pharmacy’s front door, which staff wipe down after every visit. Schumacher said patients can receive most immunizations there, while there is one that requires entry into an injection room at the back of the store, but like Hy-Vee, everyone wears masks.

As for a COVID-19 vaccine, Schumacher said “there will be one.” But there are a lot of unknowns that come with that.

“I think the biggest question for us is will there be reimbursement for administration of that vaccine,” Schumacher said. “How much will it be? Will it be enough to cover pharmacists going into people’s homes?”

“Even with all those unknowns, certainly (the flu vaccine) gives us an infrastructure for doing it,” he added. “Independent pharmacies will be at the forefront of this.”

Email Emilie Heidemann at emilie.heidemann@wcinet.com or follow her on Twitter at @HeidemannEmilie.