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Flu shot clinic serves dual roles

A number of people took advantage of the drive-through free flu shot clinic, which the County Health Department held at Bainbridge College’s Kirbo Center on Friday.

“We’ve had a fairly steady stream of people getting their shots — it’s a gorgeous day,” said nurse Thea Burke. “The drive-through clinic has been good because it’s quick and easy for people to get their shots and it gives us a chance to say ‘hi’ to our neighbors as they come through.”

A couple dozen workers from the County Health Department and Southwest Georgia Public Health were on hand to make the drive-through vaccination process flow smoothly. Three lanes with multiple stations each were set up in the parking lot and driveway of the Kirbo Center.

People who didn’t get a chance to come by the flu clinic and don’t yet have their shot can still get one in time for flu season, Burke said.

Flu vaccinations, adminstered either by a nose spray or a shot, cost $25 and are offered at the Health Department office on South West Street. The vaccine can be paid for with cash, checks and many health insurance plans. The Health Department’s new operating hours are Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. through 6 p.m. Its phone number is 248-3055.

Emergency preparedness

“This is a new site for us, we have three operable sites where we can hold a clinic like this or stage in the event of an emergency,” said Sherry Hutchins, director of the County Health Department.

The other two sites are the Health Department and the Cloud Livestock Pavilion at the County Fairgrounds. The large areas used for the drive-through clinic give health officials and emergency responders a chance to practice what they would do in case of an emergency, such as a natural disaster.

The setup of multiple, manned stations working together, as they did Friday, could be useful in a real emergency, said Tonya Griffin, who is both director of Decatur-Grady E-911 and the deputy director of the Decatur County Emergency Management Agency.

“This kind of setup could be used to triage patients with varying injuries or serve as a point of distribution for water or food,” Griffin said. “It gives us some experience coordinating resources.”

For example, the local emergency management agency’s trailer, equipped with a generator, was used to power printers used to process paperwork associated with the flu shots. The Decatur County Sheriff’s Office, Bainbridge Public Safety, Decatur County Fire and Rescue, the Decatur County Emergency Medical Service and the local Salvation Army chapter also participated in Friday’s event.