The Columbia County Health Department is holding a three-day flu vaccine clinic that will double as a dress rehearsal for the East Central Health District in preparation for an outbreak of pandemic influenza.
Flu vaccines will be available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday at three Columbia County locations: Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue headquarters, Appling Health Department and Harlem/Grovetown Health Department.
"(The clinic) has kind of a two-fold purpose," said Emmitt Walker, a public relations information coordinator for the East Central Health District. "It tests, for lack of a better word, and evaluates our capabilities in real time of administering vaccines.
"It allows us to demonstrate our specific roles through a format we would use in the event of a pandemic flu event."
The drill is part of the formation of statewide county pandemic information planning committees.
The clinic also will test the capacity of the Medical Reserve Corps volunteers, medically trained volunteers who assist the Health Department in the event of large-scale emergencies, Walker said.
"They are a vital part of the public health and its response to it," Walker said.
People attending the clinic will receive an information packet with material about Avian (bird flu) and pandemic influenza, including how families can plan for an outbreak.
Vaccines cost $20, and Medicare Part B and Medicaid Care cards are accepted. No appointment is necessary.
Walker said the flu season begins in October and runs through March.
People can come into any health department office for a vaccine if they are unable to attend the clinic, he said. Other clinics might be scheduled later.
Vaccines are usually made available through other sources such as private physicians, hospitals, drug stores and even some employers.
"We should have plenty of vaccine to cover throughout the flu season," Walker said.
For more information, call the Evans clinic at (706) 868-3330, the Appling clinic at (706) 541-1318, or the Harlem/Grovetown clinic at (706) 556-3727.
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