• 64°

Flu in, flu out

Nurse Teresa Marshall administers the vaccine to Ruth Norris. Norris and her husband, Paul, both received shots.

Nearly 100 residents came through the county health department’s first drive-thru flu vaccine clinic of the season on Wednesday.

While the day started slow, participation was booming the closer it got to the 11 a.m. cut-off time.

Terry Kyzar, Covington County Health Department director, said the purpose behind the day was two-fold.

“First, it’s important for residents to get vaccinated against the flu,” Kyzar said. “Secondly, the day served as a training exercise for us at the health department and allowed us to practice in the event a mass pandemic occurs.”

Kyzar said health department staff must train to vaccinate everyone in the county.

“What we did is simulate mass prophylaxis (vaccination) in case of pandemic flu,” he said. “This keeps the state health department qualified to receive drug supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile. We have to practice, because we have only 36 hours to vaccinate the entire county if a real emergency occurs.”

On Wednesday, patients were able to receive the shots without ever having to leave their vehicles. At different stations throughout the drive, participants filled out medical questionnaires, provided insurance information and received after-vaccination care.

“The very last station was where nurses made sure everyone felt OK after receiving their shots,” Kyzar said. “The day went even one step farther with Andalusia Regional Hospital participating in the simulation, where seven people had reactions to the vaccines. That was to stress their emergency room’s emergency preparedness plan.

“It was a great exercise for us all,” he said.

Also participating in the exercise were the Covington County Emergency Management Agency and the Covington County chapter of the American Red Cross.