State Health Department Holds Public Health Exercise

Volunteers Receive Flu Vaccinations to Prepare in the Event of a Serious Disease Outbreak

ALBANY, November 9, 2006 - Up to 1,000 state employees are expected to receive their annual flu vaccinations today in Syracuse and New York City as part of a public health response exercise, designed to protect New Yorkers in the event of a serious disease outbreak.

State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D, M.P.H., Dr. P.H. explained that the ProtEX NY exercise is crucial, because it provides health officials with a real-life public health scenario requiring a quick response to stop the spread of disease. "Today's exercise will be a test of our ability to respond in a public health emergency, and will provide us with valuable information to evaluate and improve our emergency response efforts," she said.

The Central New York ProtEX NY exercise will be held at the State Fairgrounds in Syracuse from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. It will provide State Health officials with valuable hands-on experience in vaccinating hundreds of people in a limited period of time. In a true emergency, large numbers of people will need to be vaccinated quickly, particularly those who provide critical services and care for those in need. The ProtEX NY exercise is being supported by state and federal funds and is part of a national public health preparedness initiative.

The State Health Department ordered over 1,000 doses of flu vaccine for ProtEX NY.

Local health departments in New York City, Buffalo and Albany have already conducted mass vaccination exercises during the past two years The State Health Department is coordinating additional drills and exercises across the state during the coming months.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that there is ample flu vaccine for the upcoming flu season, with 110 to115 million doses being distributed nationally during the next few months. Influenza is a serious disease that contributes to 36,000 deaths, on average, each year and 200,000 annual hospitalizations nationally.

The best way to avoid getting the flu is to get vaccinated. October through December is the best time of year to get vaccinated; however, you can get vaccinated throughout the flu season. It takes about two weeks after vaccination to develop significant protection against the flu.