W-B To Exercise Health Emergency Plans

October 12, 2018

WILKES-BARRE — The city health department will conduct an exercise of its public health emergency preparedness plans on Saturday in Kistler Elementary School parking lot, the city announced Thursday. As part of this exercise, city residents will be able to receive a free drive-through flu vaccine shot from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The purpose of the exercise is to validate the effectiveness and efficacy of the Luzerne County Mass Distribution of Medical Counter Measures plan. The plan recognizes the Kistler school in South Wilkes-Barre, as well as Dan Flood Elementary School in North End, as Points of Dispensing (POD). A POD is a location where medication is dispensed, and most PODs are schools. A POD would be used in the unlikely event there would be the need to quickly provide citizens either an oral medication or vaccine through the Mass Distribution of Medical Counter Measures (MDMC). Last fall, a similar exercise was conducted at the Dan Flood school. The activation of a POD for the affected but not symptomatic population in Luzerne County would be the result of a potential public health emergency of either a natural or man-made event, also referred to as an all-hazard event. The use of a POD would be the primary method to provide MDMC to the general population without adding undue pressure on an already over utilized health care system in a public emergency. In the event of an all-hazard event that requires rapid dispensing of either oral or vaccine medication, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention will coordinate with states, counties and local communities for the deployment of the Strategic National Stockpile. The stockpile is a CDC-supplied repository of antibiotics, vaccines, chemical antidotes, antitoxins and other critical medical equipment and supplies. By simulating an actual public health emergency, the city health department will be testing its ability to provide any medication in an emergency. This simulation further benefits residents, as it will provide Wilkes-Barre citizens with flu vaccine shots. Residents should not see any difference between the flu clinic held as part of the exercise and what they would experience if they went to the school to receive a vaccine in a real public health emergency, the city said. — STAFF REPORT

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