Flu shots, pandemic preparedness go hand-in-hand at drill held Oct. 18
–What if a highly contagious disease like the pandemic flu swept toward SLO County? The county team and local jurisdictions would be ready to respond quickly to deliver mass vaccinations—thanks in part to drills like the recent First Responder Point-of-Distribution Drill.
Flu shots and pandemic preparedness went hand-in-hand at the drill on October 18, when more than 1,000 vaccines were given in three hours across SLO County. The drill is a collaboration of the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) team and local jurisdictions: the Five Cities Fire Authority, City of Grover Beach, City of Morro Bay, City of Paso Robles, and City of San Luis Obispo.
The exercise provided flu shots to first responders plus County and city employees (who are all disaster service workers by statute) while serving as a mass vaccination drill that keeps teams sharp and ready to respond to the threat of pandemic illness.
“It’s a win-win,” said Elizabeth Merson, program manager for PHEP. “Realistic drills like this are the best way to prepare for a mass health emergency like pandemic flu. As a bonus, our first responders are protected for this year’s real-life flu season. The flu shot vastly reduces their chances of getting sick and helps limit the spread of the virus in our area.”
The drill offers a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes efforts of the PHEP team, which works daily to ensure that our local first responders and health care system are prepared to respond to public health emergencies—from a disease outbreak to a natural disaster or act of terrorism—in an effective and coordinated manner.
Vaccines were administered by Public Health Department nurses, Cuesta College nursing students, and volunteers from the SLO Medical Reserve Corps, a group of trained volunteers convened by PHEP to assist public health efforts during times of special need or disaster.
More information about the flu and flu vaccine is available at www.cdc.gov/flu.
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