Friday, January 15, 2010
Ample vaccine at Board of Health’s H1N1 flu clinic
Saturday’s H1N1 flu clinic organized by the Board of Health (BOH) provided free vaccinations for 343 people aged five and older. Previously, the board had held three smaller clinics for emergency medical technicians and residents at high risk for medical complications from H1N1. According to BOH Agent Linda Fantasia, the town has provided a total of 650 H1N1 vaccinations since November. About 290 doses remain unused and the BOH plans to contact the state for directions on how to redistribute them to other communities. Anyone still interested in receiving a vaccination is advised to check the state website: www.flu.masspro.org for information.
Those who arrived early experienced the longest lines, with waits between 40 minutes and an hour. Fantasia said there were no major complications. In three “very small” cases, someone needed juice, reassurance or questions answered about allergic reactions. Overall, Fantasia said the BOH felt the H1N1 clinics were successful. “We’re all pleased.”
Free clinic thanks to volunteers, grants
Fantasia explained that the vaccine, supplies, police and custodial help for Saturday’s free walk-in clinic were funded through the federal Centers for Disease Control at no cost to the town. “We made wonderful use of our new trailer (paid for with federal dollars). It made everything so easy – we could just pack it up with supplies and take it over to the school, rather than make numerous car trips.”
Dr. Bill Hoffmann of Autumn Lane volunteered to serve as the clinic’s medical director. In addition to supervising the clinic he also volunteered as one of the 11 vaccinators. Two nurses from the state Department of Public Health joined the volunteer medical professionals in dispensing vaccinations. BOH member Mark Caddell was also on hand, as were close to 20 volunteers from the Council on Aging and Carlisle’s Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). They helped distribute forms and maintain orderly lines, as people being processed moved from the hallway in the Corey basement, to the exercise room, to the gymnasium, where the vaccines were dispensed. Knights of Columbus members helped set up tables and equipment before the clinic and other volunteers came later in the day to help close up.
Clinic offered training
The grant for the BOH trailer was an outgrowth of the federal call for enhanced local emergency preparedness, as was the formation of the local MRC. One goal of the BOH is for the MRC to develop the capability to potentially run a large-scale medical dispensing clinic to treat all town residents within 48 hours. Clinics for H1N1 were smaller; however, Fantasia felt they provided useful training for the MRC and noted, “For each clinic we’ve improved our system.”
She added that the size of the final H1N1 clinic provided an intermediate step between annual BOH flu clinics for seniors and an emergency clinic for the entire town. “It would be awful to jump from the senior flu clinic to a town-wide clinic. It would be extremely difficult to pull off. Now we’re much more confident that we could handle a larger emergency. It might actually work.” ∆
© 2010 The