KING COUNTY, WASHINGTON - Hundreds of people were vaccinated against the seasonal flu today as part of a drill testing local plans to rapidly distribute large supplies of medicine in an emergency to local communities. Over 75 staff members from public health and partner organizations contributed to the successful event.
"In a public health emergency, people may need medication or vaccine that could save their lives, and we need to be ready to help them," said King County Executive Ron Sims. "This is one more example of our county's ongoing commitment to readiness for disasters."
"Emergency preparedness is one of Public Health's core responsibilities, and this drill advances our capacity to answer the call when people will need us most," said Dorothy Teeter, Interim Director and Health Officer for Public Health Seattle & King County. "It's also great news that so many people had the opportunity to get vaccinated against the seasonal flu today."
Building on a similar drill in 2005, today's mass vaccination clinic tested:
- patient flow through a Medication Center
- the ability to meet the diverse needs and requirement of patients, including those who have limited English speaking ability and those with disabilities
- the effectiveness of signage, and staffing levels and functions
The drill also provided an opportunity to train more staff for emergency duty and decrease the time it takes to set up Medication Centers for operation.
In an emergency, Public Health's Medication Centers would quickly gear up to dispense medicines or vaccines safely to the public. Currently, Public Health is capable of operating four Centers simultaneously at any of twelve different locations across King County. New sites continue to be identified and additional staff and volunteers are being recruited and trained.
Interested volunteers for emergency duty at a Medication Center may contact the Public Health Reserve Corps program.
As local supplies of vaccines, antibiotics and other medical equipment may be quickly depleted in an emergency, Public Health may access state and federal resource assistance by requesting mobilization of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) of medical supplies. The SNS is a cache of pharmaceuticals, vaccines, and medical supplies managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and made available to assist states and local communities in their emergency response activities.
The metropolitan Seattle region is one of 21 urban areas that were originally chosen to participate in the CDC's Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI) program. The goal of CRI is to save lives through timely delivery of the SNS, which includes medicines and medical supplies during a large-scale public health emergency. Conducted in concert with state and local partners, this drill is part of Public Health's local CRI efforts.
For more information about the Cities Readiness Initiative, visit www.bt.cdc.gov/cri
Providing effective and innovative health and disease prevention services for over 1.8 million residents and visitors of King County, Public Health Seattle & King County works for safer and healthier communities for everyone, every day.