SYLVESTER—From 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Oct. 6, emergency responders and community partners will hone their skills and test their preparedness at the seventh annual Worth Community Disaster Drill and Drive-Through Flu Shot Clinic at the Worth County Agricultural Pavilion. Once again this year, the event also features $11 rabies shots for pets.
Around 20 community agencies – the same ones that would respond in the event of a disaster – put together the yearly event, said Worth County Health Department Nurse Manager Gina Connell, the driving force behind the disaster drill/drive-through flu clinic.
“The event is important because it helps the community’s first responders prepare, lets agencies test emergency plans and as a bonus gives residents a chance to get vaccinated against flu without the inconvenience of leaving their vehicles,” Connell said. It takes an average of six minutes to drive through the flu clinic.
“We do this because in a real disaster, we would have to take care of our own county and our own community for at least the first 24 to 48 hours before help from other counties or agencies could arrive,” she said.
Connell praised Sylvester Animal Hospital for offering discounted rabies shots to participants who bring pets through the drive-through clinic.
“This is the second consecutive year Dr. Joe Farrow and his wife Branda have partnered in the event,” she said. “This year we hope to see even more residents take advantage of this opportunity to roll up, get their flu shot and get their pet vaccinated. You save time and money.”
Southwest Health District Emergency Preparedness Director Julie Miller said Worth County is a model community in the state when it comes to disaster preparedness.
“Worth County is ahead of the curve of many communities because this annual combination disaster drill and drive-through flu clinic allows the community to become educated about how to work together during a crisis – before the crisis occurs.”
First responders and partner agencies are already comfortable talking to each other and to the public, Miller said. “It pays off.”
The site, located at the corner of Highway 313 and Rebecca Drive (next to the Worth County Public Works Office), was selected based on the ability to safely and easily manage the flow of traffic, explained Connell. Forms are provided to residents beforehand to be filled out prior to arriving at the clinic site.
“Of course, for those who don’t have forms, forget them, or need help filling them out, we have clinic helpers there to assist,” Connell said.
Only influenza shots are provided during the drive-through clinic. They are $30 per person. The health department accepts cash, checks, Medicaid, Medicare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna and Coventry United Healthcare (State Health Benefits Plan only).
The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated against seasonal influenza each year.
For more information about the drive-through clinic, call 229-777-2150.