Delaware flu clinic doubles as disaster prep drill

A drive-in flu vaccine clinic outside DelDOT’s building on Bay Road in Dover was even more successful that last year’s event.

From the time workers first started administering shots around 6 a.m. until about 11 a.m., more than 300 residents had been vaccinated. That’s more than last year’s drive-in clinic vaccinated in an entire day.

“Flu is unpredictable and it can be deadly, last year we had a very difficult flu season,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the state Division of Public Heath. “We had over 4,500 documented or laboratory positive influenza cases and unfortunately we had 15 flu related deaths here in Delaware.”

This year’s flu season hasn’t officially started, but there have already been a few confirmed flu cases in the state. “Which tells us, it’s time to get on our toes and for people to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Rattay said.

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Delaware Gov. John Carney joined the effort to encourage more Delawareans to get vaccinated. “I’m really a prop here today. It’s my job to roll up my sleeve and to put my arm out there for Dr. Walker to administer the juice,” Carney said. Before getting his shot from Dept. of Health and Social Services Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Carney asked for a gentle touch, “I know it was a rough budget year last year, but come on.”

While the clinic does help increase the number of vaccinated residents, it also helps public health workers rehearse for an emergency situation where lots of vaccines would have to be administered to the public as quickly as possible.

“If we were to experience something that were a dramatic disaster, this is a perfect preparedness exercise. Let’s see how ready we are to take on bigger challenges where we can get large numbers of mass vaccinations administered in this type of venue,” Odom Walker said. “In a true emergency, we have to be ready to serve everyone, ready at the drop of a hat to administer vaccines in parking lots and other places.”

Odom Walker said everyone in the state over the age of six months should get vaccinated.



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