How Would Hall County Handle a Pandemic Flu Outbreak?

Flu Season is approaching, and like every year, free shots are given all over the country. But Saturday morning in Hall County, the Central District Health Department wasn't just giving flu shots; they were practicing for an actual pandemic.

Threats of the bird flu or man-made bio-terrorism are scary enough, but could our local health department instantly help thousands of Nebraskans if something happened? That's what Central District Health Department A.D. Ryan King and 31 agencies tested out at mass-distributing clinics like the Heartland Events Center in Grand Island, and in Cairo.

"It's public health; we're trying to prepare people for any type of emergency," King said. "The biggest part is getting these agencies together to get familiar with who we are, knowing we can respond if something does happen."
Five hundred Hall County residents volunteered earlier this week to report to registration sites in Grand Island, Wood River, Doniphan, Alda and Cairo. From there, busses brought them to clinics in Grand Island and Cairo. Their goal? 500 flu shots in one hour. That is similar to what they would try to carry out in a real-life crisis.

"So we can get our game plan early, in case something actually does happen so we can work the kinks out," King added.
With the bird flu killing many in Asia, Europe, and now Africa, the Central District Health Department realizes a pandemic is possible. So Saturday morning, they created a real-life giving as many shots possible, in one hour.
In the meantime, they're also helping folks from spreading germs this flu season.

Moms, dads, and their little ones took advantage of the free shots. Because once the flu hits, it usually hits the whole family.
"We had influenza A last year, so we'd like to prevent some of these things," Julie Starman said, who bussed over with her husband and four kids from Doniphan.

It's her two small children's first time getting the shot. Last year, one kid brought the flu home, and it rippled through the family for a week and a half.
"We all had to get on the anti-viral drug," Starman said.
Her four-year-old daughter Emma and six-year-old son took it well; they didn't even cry. And with cookies and juice for everybody, they boarded the bus back to Doniphan. That may make a bus trip on a Saturday morning well worth another miserable week of sick kids. And it reassured Starman that her community would be in good hands if a pandemic occurred.
"I think it's a great benefit to the community," she said. "That way if there were an incident, people would hopefully be prepared."

There is no pandemic flu in the U.S. or the world now, but local health officials are worried about the bird flu. Nebraska has a state pandemic flu plan in place.
For more information on preparing for a pandemic or to get a flu shot this season, contact the Health department at, or (308) 385-5175 or toll free at 1-877-216-9092.

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