November 02, 2004
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health, sponsored the six-hour clinic on Saturday, October 30 in Kodiak with the help of many partner agencies and organizations. All the agencies, especially the Kodiak Public Health Center, spent long hours over the past few months planning the exercise to test the ability to provide vaccinations to large numbers of people in a short amount of time.
"During a large scale public health emergency it may be necessary to vaccinate or provide other medications to many people quickly to protect them from illness or death. Thanks to the efforts in Kodiak, we now have a much better idea of what it would take to do that in Alaska," said Public Health Director Richard Mandsager, M.D.
Many other states planned to use flu vaccine to conduct similar exercises, but when the vaccine shortage was announced in early October most cancelled their plans. At the Kodiak exercise, flu shots were given to high-risk people who attended, but many others came out knowing they could not receive a flu shot. In all, 1202 people participated by going through the vaccination lines; 624 of them received a flu shot.
"We certainly would have had many more people show up [in Kodiak] if they all could have received a flu shot, but we knew that Alaskans have a strong sense of community preparedness and that many would show up anyway just to help. The people of Kodiak proved us right," added Mandsager.
The Division of Public Health
plans to use the successes and lessons learned in this exercise
to plan for public health emergencies statewide.
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