San Mateo Co. holds mass vaccination drill

October 5, 2009 11:48:12 AM PDT
The first vaccinations against the H1N1 swine flu got underway Monday morning in two states, Tennessee and Indiana. The U.S. government will try to inoculate over half the population in just a few months.

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With such a massive goal, Bay Area counties are getting prepared. Monday morning, San Mateo County tested itself and held a mass vaccination drill.

The drill took place at the Urban Search and Rescue warehouse in Menlo Park. It envisioned that the San Mateo County Health Department had ordered a mass vaccination. It would not be too much of a stretch to say that if the drill had been the real thing, the smoother things went, the more people would survive.

Steve Nachtsheim had several reasons to get a flu shot Monday. One is because he is a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member and he wants his fellow team members to see how smoothly a mass vaccination can go. Secondly, he is concerned about the H1N1 virus.

"I've got a 12-year-old daughter, and it's supposed to hit people below 60. So, we keep reading and watching and wondering what's going to happen, and we take it seriously," he told ABC7.

"We're actually going to learn through this exercise, how many people would be able to get through, utilizing the system," said Jon Jonston with the Menlo Park Fire Department.

CERT members were present to do the paperwork and more.

"The volunteers are going to be directing people that are coming in for their flu shots. They're going to be managing the tables here. They're going to be assisting the nurses in giving the shots," explained CERT member Jon Mosby.

They were giving actual flu shots Monday, but they were for the seasonal flu and not the H1N1 flu. This week, doctors nationwide will receive 600,000 tubes of nasal spray vaccine and 6 million doses of injectable vaccine for H1N1. Perhaps 50 million doses will be available next week.

Should the so-called swine flu become a pandemic, local emergency officials want to be ready with the vaccine.

"So, today's exercise would really be kind of helping families to begin with, learning how well our process is going to work, so we can have an idea of how many of those vaccinations we can get through in a day," Jonston said. "Because, right now we serve 93,000 residents.

San Mateo County expects to receive 10,000 nasal spray doses of the H1N1 vaccine. They do not know when they will get the injectable doses. The nasal sprays are for kids 2 to 10 years of age, and for caretakers who take care of children 6-months-old and younger.

None of this applies to pregnant women, a group of great concern to public health officials.

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