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Macon County, IL Health Department will conduct mass flu vac as pandemic practice

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  • Macon County, IL Health Department will conduct mass flu vac as pandemic practice

    Macon County Health Department will conduct mass flu vaccination as pandemic practice
    By COURTNEY KLEMM - H&R Staff WriterDECATUR - As part of a preparedness plan in the event of an influenza pandemic, the Macon County Health Department is conducting a countywide exercise to vaccinate mass amounts of individuals against the flu.

    The health department has planned for an emergency preparedness exercise from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at Progress City USA next to Richland Community College. Seasonal flu shots will be provided for all adults and children over 6 months. The exercise, in collaboration with the Macon County Emergency Management Agency and Public Health, will test the surge capacity for dispensing flu vaccine to the public as would be done in the case of a pandemic, which affects a wide geographic area.

    The seasonal influenza is a respiratory illness and complications from the flu cause 36,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations each year, said Shannon Comer, emergency preparedness manager for the health department. In a pandemic, those numbers would increase drastically, and the health department is charged with being able to effectively vaccinate everyone in the county in that possible event.

    Drive-through flu shots will be available for $20 a shot. Those who are at high risk of having serious flu complications include children 6 months to 5 years old, pregnant women, people 50 and older, people with certain chronic medical conditions or people who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. High-risk individuals or people who live with or care for those at high risk should receive the flu shot every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    "One of our main goals is to teach ways for the public to prevent getting the illness, and that includes cough etiquette, hand washing, not going to work or school if sick and getting a yearly flu vaccine," Comer said. "So if or when a pandemic occurs, people already have these habits and reduce their risk of getting the illness."

    People participating in the emergency preparedness exercise should wear short sleeves and bring check or cash to pay for the seasonal flu vaccine. Medicare and Medicaid cards will be accepted. Credit cards will not be accepted.

    "The idea is to be prepared now and create our plan; if a pandemic does happen, we can exercise our plan throughout the community," Comer said. "Testing our plan is the only way to fix any problems and figure out what we need to do better."

    Courtney Klemm can be reached at or 421-6968.
    "We are in this breathing space before it happens. We do not know how long that breathing space is going to be. But, if we are not all organizing ourselves to get ready and to take action to prepare for a pandemic, then we are squandering an opportunity for our human security"- Dr. David Nabarro