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Flu shots at COC drive-thru Oct. 30

Posted: October 2, 2009 12:07 p.m.
Updated: October 22, 2009 4:11 p.m.

One of the participants in the 2008 drive-thru clinic gets a flu shot.

 
The city of Santa Clarita, the L.A. Department of Public Health and College of the Canyons along with the L.A. County Sheriff and Fire Departments, will conduct a drive-through flu shot clinic on Friday, Oct. 30, 2009.

This is the fourth consecutive year for this activity, which features the dispensing of flu shots without people generally having to leave the comfort of their cars.

A drive-through flu shot production line will be set up in the College of the Canyons Valencia campus parking lots off Rockwell Canyon Road, with shots being dispensed from 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., or as long as the vaccine lasts.

Only inoculations against the seasonal flu will be dispensed at this event.

Flu shots are often provided to the public in anticipation of an active flu season but the event also serves a secondary purpose. This drive-through clinic will once again test the Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI) response during a bioterrorism attack and help prepare for our community's response to a potential pandemic.

The purpose of the CRI plan is to treat an impacted, mass population with medications within a short time period. Under the plan, the drive-through clinic is called a rapid point of dispensing or POD. College of the Canyons is a designated POD site for the bioterrorism plan.

People stay in their cars to help minimize the potential spread of infection. As a result, no walk-up shots are administered.

"This collaborative training opportunity demonstrates how the city of Santa Clarita and its partners continually work to enhance response efforts for all types of emergencies and also the importance of practicing for emergencies," Mayor Frank Ferry said.

Each year, additional volunteers are brought into the organizational structure of the POD to learn the responsibilities of various key positions. As a result, more people are trained each year to assume the various responsibilities within the emergency structure. The hope is to develop a pool of people within the community who can step in and run multiple PODs if a future situation were to warrant that.

"There are always things to learn and always ways to improve our procedures," said Dr. Michael Wilding, assistant superintendent/vice president of the college as well as the POD manager for the past two years.

"In fact," said Wilding, "we learned last year that we needed to reorient the traffic flow so that more cars are accommodated in the relative safety of the college's parking lots rather than on busy streets, so this year we will have cars enter the dispensing area from Rockwell Canyon Road instead of Valencia Boulevard."

"The planning and implementing of the clinic fosters cooperation and communication between agencies that otherwise don't often work together, who need to be able to coordinate their responses in the event of a national emergency," Wilding said.

The college's Valencia campus is conveniently located near freeways and major arteries so that, in a real world bioterrorism event, large numbers of people could be inoculated very efficiently.

College of the Canyons nursing students administer most of the shots and students from the EMT program are an important part of the screening process prior to shots being administered. Both groups gain valuable, real world experience from the clinic.

In the event of a large outbreak of disease or a regional terrorist attack, many sites similar to this one in Santa Clarita would be needed to serve the needs of California communities.

According to public health officials, the Santa Clarita flu clinics over the last three years have ranked among the best in all of California. More than 120 volunteers from the participating agencies help coordinate the event each year.

The number of flu shots administered each year depends on the availability of seasonal flu vaccine. It is anticipated that more than a thousand shots will be available this year.

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