Some voters completing one essential fall ritual by casting their ballots last Election Day could simultaneously take part in another—getting vaccinated against the flu.

Douglas Shenson, M.D., M.P.H., associate clinical professor at the Yale School of Public Health, organized the effort, which marks the first time that flu vaccination clinics were set up within or nearby select polling stations on a national scale. The “Vote & Vax” program operated 300 clinics in 42 states and the District of Columbia, including 11 clinics in Connecticut.

Douglas Shenson, M.D., M.P.H., associate clinical professor at the Yale School of Public Health, organized the effort, which marks the first time that flu vaccination clinics were set up within or nearby select polling stations on a national scale. The “Vote & Vax” program operated 300 clinics in 42 states and the District of Columbia, including 11 clinics in Connecticut.

Individuals most at risk from influenza—those who are over 50 years old—are also the people most likely to vote, and Shenson hoped to provide these people with a convenient way to get vaccinated. “Vote & Vax is a public health strategy designed to better protect vulnerable Americans against influenza,” Shenson says. “During national elections, polling places offer an extraordinary public health opportunity to reach very large numbers of older adults on a single day, early in the flu shot season.”

The non-partisan program was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and directed by the Connecticut-based SPARC (Sickness Prevention Achieved through Regional Collaboration), a nonprofit health agency that Shenson directs. The idea began in 2006 as a pilot program that reached some 13,000 people. Shenson said he wants to see the program continue in subsequent election cycles until it becomes a routine part of public health practice.