By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Setbacks won't stop flu shot drill

Mass inoculations set for November 5 officials say


A city-wide flu shot drill is set for Tuesday evening, Nov. 5 according to health officials.

The annual event, where health officials from both public and private sector come together to inoculate as many people in Valdez at one time as possible, will go on despite setbacks in the local public health office, the now-ended federal shutdown and other obstacles.

This year, the City of Valdez financed the purchase of the vaccines, so inoculations will be free to the public.

“We’re not charging this year because the city is covering the cost,” said Colleen Price of Providence Valdez Medical Center, the planned location of this year’s event.

Last year, the hospital purchased the vaccines when the State of Alaska stopped its funding for adult flu shot vaccines.

Keeney said inoculating as much of the population as possible at one time gives emergency responders – and the public - real-time practice that could prove invaluable in the event of a real-time health emergency. It also serves a much higher purpose.

“It takes care of the health of our community,” Keeney said.

Price agreed.

“The reason it can get kind of screwy is we try to run it like a drill,” she said. “It’s two things we’re doing at once.”

For many years, Valdez has been on the vanguard of protecting the health of the populace by providing numerous opportunities for people to get flu shots, including mass inoculation clinics.

This year could be more urgent than most, as vaccines will be in shorter supply after the drill.

According to Tim Struna, the Southcentral Region Nurse Manager for the State of Alaska, the traveling public health nurse, Sandra Woods.

“We plan on sending a public health nurse to help with that event,” he said in a telephonic interview Monday.

There will be just under 800 doses available at the drill according to Price.

In addition to offering the flu shots to anyone who shows up, Keeney said organizers are looking for volunteers to help run the drill.

Price said donations will be accepted to defray costs and children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The clinic will run from 6-8 p.m.

The Valdez Medical Clinic has approximately 100 doses of flu shot vaccine according to Dr. Kathy Todd.

There are costs associated with receiving the vaccine at the clinic versus attending the mass inoculation clinic, which is free this year.

Last year, the now-retired public health nurse Pam Shirrell said most people should consider getting a flu shot. Only those who are currently ill with a fever , are allergic to chicken eggs or have compromised immune systems from certain diseases should not get a flu shot.

Children under the age of five and those over the age of 50 are usually encouraged to get the vaccine, as they are at the highest risk of serious complications from influenza.

It is important to get inoculated with the new vaccine every year, according to medical experts. The types of flu the inoculations prevent can change from year to year and unfortunately, the protection doesn’t last forever.

Anyone with questions regarding this year’s flu shot drill or wishing to volunteer can call Keeney at city hall.

Valdez Star file photo

Valdez man Mike Tucker took it like a man when getting a flu shot during the 2012 mass flu inoculation drill.


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