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Free flu vaccine clinic also practice against bioterrorism

Dual shot of safety

Posted: November 17, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 17, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Thomas Kirk, 11, prepares to get his flu shot at a flu clinic held at College of the Canyons in Valencia on Friday.

More than 600 people turned out for the seventh annual free flu shot clinic Friday at College of the Canyons.

The clinic — co-hosted by the city of Santa Clarita, the college and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health — also served as a community collaboration to practice emergency-preparedness procedures, organizers said.

College and city volunteers directed 638 patients through the parking lot, up to the east gym and through an initial screening process, streamlining the inoculation process, said college spokesman Bruce Battle.

“It’s training for the event of a bioterrorist attack,” Battle said. “We run this scenario as if it were a response to a crisis. We’ve got it down to a pretty good science at this point.”

The clinic meets a need for free local flu shots and doubles as an opportunity for the city, college and sheriff’s station to practice an efficient and safe mass inoculation process, Battle said.

The collaborating parties participated in meetings prior to the event, and volunteers completed a two-hour training course covering the safe and efficient administration of the vaccine, Battle said.

“It was very organized. There were signs. They flagged me in. It was easy-squeezy,” said Laura Romano, a College of the Canyons nursing student who took advantage of the free event.

“It was very fast and effective. I was in and out in five minutes or less,” said Cody Coston, also a College of the Canyons student.

Without the free and convenient service, Coston said, he would not have received the flu shot this year.

The Public Health Department provided 1,000 vaccines, and the shots were administered by faculty and student volunteers from the college nursing program.

“They get hands-on training to supplement their education in the program,” Battle said.

Tiatra Tara, a nursing student readying for graduation, was trained to administer injections through her program, but she learned the importance of emergency medical history screenings through the clinic training course.

Before administering the vaccine, patients reviewed their medical history with Tara to ensure they were a match for the strain, Tara said.

Leading up the event, Tara said she was a little anxious about properly giving the vaccine.

“You’re working with the person, and you’re sticking things in them. But with the knowledge, you can tackle that fear because you know you’re doing it safely and correctly,” Tara said. “You always want to keep your patients safe.”

The clinic ran from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.


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