Health department conducts live drill for mass outbreak - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Health department conducts live drill for mass outbreak

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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BARTLETT, Tenn. (FOX13) -

From the seasonal flu to H1N1 and even smallpox, the Shelby County Health Department continues to prepare in the event of an infectious disease mass outbreak.

"Right at ten years ago, they were worried about smallpox which we have eliminated, but if it were to reoccur or be inflicted upon us it could kill a lot of people," said Dr. Helen Morrow with the Shelby County Health Department, "So we would have to get people vaccinated in a short period of time."

More than 600 volunteers steadily arrived during the health department's mass vaccination drill on Saturday. They received their flu shots, helping both themselves to be protected against the virus and the health department to receive "live" training for the exercise.

"We want to be able to make sure we become experts in working through all the planning, the logistics, the implementation, knowing when to set up a clinic, how to do it, all the little minute details," said Yvonne Madlock, Director of the Shelby County Health Department.

Quick delivery of the vaccination was a primary goals during the practice clinic.

"With certain things, you have very short windows to get vaccines into people to protect them in the event of an outbreak," said Morrow.

Volunteers said going through the process took approximately six minutes, including scanning the volunteer's driver's license, filling out a two-page questionnaire and receiving the vaccination.

"They're very well prepared," said volunteer Lee Clarke with the Medical Reserve Corps, "They've got a lot more staff here than I was anticipating, so the line's moving really fast, really smooth. There's people here if you need help."

The drills remind health officials of clinics they held in 2004 during the flu shot shortage in Shelby County as well as the H1N1 outbreak in 2009. It's why, they said, it is important to continue practicing.

"We have not had anything happen against our country in over ten years but we cannot become complacent. We still need to be prepared," said Morrow.

The Shelby County Health Department recommends the following people receive their seasonal flu vaccination, which can be distributed at various health department locations, some supermarket clinics and physician offices:
- pregnant women
- people 50 years or older
- anyone with chronic medical conditions including asthma, lung diseases, heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes
- those living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities
- people living with or caring for those at high risk for complications from the flu

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