State Health Department Holds Mass Vaccination Training Exercise

1,500 State Employees to Receive Flu Vaccinations

BUFFALO, N.Y. (Nov. 8, 2007) – Up to 1,500 state employees are participating in a state Health Department training exercise today at the South Campus of the University at Buffalo (UB) to help public health officials rehearse a public health response in the event of a medical emergency.

The state Health Department is conducting a Point of Dispensing (POD) exercise to evaluate the state's emergency response w hen rapidly delivering vaccine to nearly 1,500 state employees in a short time period.

"The Department's mass flu vaccination exercise will serve as a training ground so health care practitioners will be ready for all types of public health emergencies," said State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D.

Between 10 a.m.-3 p.m. today, the State Health Department will provide flu shots or Flu Mist® intra-nasal vaccine, free of charge to state and UB employees who previously registered to get vaccinated.

In addition to administering vaccine, volunteers have been assigned to help fill out forms, give people directions, keep track of supplies, or perform other jobs, such as:

  • Set up and break down equipment;
  • Help those being vaccinated to complete paperwork;
  • Streamline and direct people waiting to be vaccinated;
  • Provide computer network support and a backup paper system; and
  • Support internal communications.

"Every county in New York State has already identified locations that could serve as PODs for local residents, if necessary," Commissioner Daines said. "This event is part of the Department's public health preparedness initiative that is improving New York's ability to respond to a naturally occurring or man-made health crisis. Preparedness is crucial, and we are committed to enhancing our readiness in every way possible.

"In a true emergency, we'll need to ensure that state employees whose jobs are critical to protect public health and safety continue to have the ability to provide services and care to those in need. We must be prepared to respond quickly with antibiotics, antiviral medications or vaccines to stop the spread of disease."

UB's participation in the exercise involves much more than simply serving as the host site, explained David L. Dunn, M.D., Ph.D., UB vice president for health sciences. UB has worked closely with the state Department of Health to organize the exercise and has encouraged UB employees to participate as exercise volunteers and recipients of flu vaccinations.

"UB's participation in this very important event reflects our long-standing commitment to improving the health and well-being of the Western New York community," Dr. Dunn said. "The goals of this exercise complement the goals of our UB 2020 strategic vision, which calls for leveraging UB research strengths in health and wellness, civic engagement and disaster mitigation, among other strengths, to help solve some of the most pressing problems of our community and the world at large."

State public health preparedness initiatives include:

  • Working with hospitals, local health departments and state agencies to develop detailed emergency response plans and full-scale training exercises.
  • Developing surveillance systems to assist in quickly identifying emerging disease threats.
  • Training doctors, nurses and other medical professionals about emergent health threats and treatment protocols.
  • Establishing an extensive statewide medical volunteer database.
  • Developing the Health Emergency Response Data System (HERDS), a statewide electronic data collection system.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

Since 2005, the state Health Department has had a number of public health exercises with local health departments and health care organizations throughout the state to be prepared to protect New Yorkers in the event of a serious disease outbreak. For additional information about the state Emergency preparedness efforts please visit the department Web Site at www.health.ny.gov.