The pending flu season gives The University of Alabama a chance to test its ability to respond to a variety of public health emergencies.
Hundreds of free flu vaccines will be distributed Sept. 17 to students, faculty and staff during a mock exercise that will help prepare UA medical personnel, staff and students to dispense large quantities of medication to the campus community in the event of an emergency.
“We plan to use this as a training exercise when there is no emergency,” said Ken Horst, assistant director of UA’s Office of Emergency Management. “And at the same time, we’re providing free flu vaccines to those who come out to participate. Everyone benefits.”
UA serves as a Closed Point of Dispensing, also known as a POD, for the campus community in the event preventative medication needs to be dispensed during an emergency situation. Students, employees, and spouses and children of employees are eligible to receive the medication recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention if a POD is needed.
To better prepare those who will be called to distribute medication in a quick and orderly manner, a POD simulation will take place as part of a traditional flu shot clinic Sept. 17 at Coleman Coliseum. Students, faculty and staff wanting to get their yearly flu shot can come to the event from 10 a.m. to noon.
“All of the individuals who will participate in the exercise know what to do relative to treating patients individually, but we want to create a scenario that will call for a large collaboration to treat a number of patients in a short amount of time,” said Horst. “Treating 150 patients in a day is completely different from treating 50,000 in a span of 36 hours.”
In addition to medical personnel, Horst said many UA departments will assist in the screening process, security and traffic patterns, among other duties.
As with any other UA flu shot clinic, vaccines are free and no insurance is required, but students and employees will need to provide their campuswide identification number, or CWID. The only addition to this particular clinic is some individuals will receive an index card that will have their time of entry on it. Cards will be given back to staff at the exit and the times on the cards will be used to calculate the logistics in the event a POD is needed.
For more information about the training exercise, contact the Office of Emergency Management at https://ready.ua.edu/staff/.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.