Union County’s prepared for health-related pandemics

Posted December 30, 2012 at 10:29 pm

by Julie Ann Madden

If there is a health pandemic such as a flu epidemic, Union County officials are ready, Union County Nurse Lisa McInerney told Union County Commissioners at their Nov. 13 meeting during the monthly department-head briefings.

For the past couple of years, Union County officials have participated in the state’s Pod exercises where large groups of people are bussed to the University of South Dakota’s Dome and given flu vaccinations.

“The Pod exercise went really well,” said Union County Nurse Lisa McInerney.

This time, there were only eight nurses giving vaccinations, she said, adding they provided approximately 640 people immunization shots during a four-hour period. “Actually, the majority were done in the first two hours.”

She estimated they completed 400 – 450 people’s flu shots in the first two hours. The longest wait time was 11 minutes and that was for a family of five, she said.

“I felt, at the dome, everything went pretty smoothly,” said McInerney. “They had great direction, plenty of people.”

More security would be present if it was a true pandemic, she said, adding there was plenty of room in a waiting area where shot recipients waited while paramedics observed them for signs of drug reactions. “We didn’t have any incidences of that.”

“It was really well set up,” said McInerney. “I think we would be well prepared (in the event of a pandemic situation).”

“It’s great that we’ve had two huge exercises at the Dome,” said McInerney, adding local nurses are working closely with state officials regarding health matters. “If a catastrophe took place, (mass vaccinations for Union County residents) would be done at the Dome.”

Emergency Management Administrator Raymond Roggow explained in the case of a real pandemic, local officials would just be responsible for transportation of people while South Dakota Department of Health officials would be administering the Pod events.

“Our transportation system is set up through the schools, using their buses, and first responders from those communities will react to transportation needs,” said Roggow. “We will coordinate the event through the Office of Emergency Management.”

McInerney also reported working at a flu shot clinic at Dakota Valley Community School one evening the week of Nov. 4.

“We did a lot of flu vaccinations for children,” said McInerney.

A recent state immunization audit of the Union County Public Health Office revealed an immunization rate of 83 percent for children under age 2.

“That’s always a good thing to get done,” said McInerney, “and we did well (in the audit).”

At the Nov. 27 Commission meeting, Women, Infants & Children Nurse Jessica Christensen told commissioners, if there is a bioterrorism incident, the goal for the Union and Clay County POD is to give out 20,000 doses (shots) in 48 hours.

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