Mass Vaccination Drill in Rochester

Posted at: 11/01/2012 5:47 PM
Updated at: 11/01/2012 7:14 PM
By: Brianna Long

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Events like Hurricane Sandy often leave large amounts of people needing help. So Thursday, hundreds filled RCTC's Field House to prepare for a mass vaccination.

"We're using a scenario where there was an anthrax exposure," said Pete Giesen, with Olmsted County Public Health.

It has a low chance of happening, but the consequences of Anthrax exposure are serious. That's why Olmsted County Public Health held a mass vaccination exercise.

"The goal is to be able to get as many people vaccinated, and their antibiotics as quickly as possible," said Giesen.

More than a thousand employees from Olmsted, Wabasha, and Filmore counties were bussed in to participate in the simulation.

"It went really quickly. They're doing a good job. A lot of volunteers," said participant Karen Rustin.

"I saw a lot of people in orange and that was acutally rather reassuring," said another participant Stephanie Podulke.

First, the participants would fill out paperwork, then receive a bottle of antibiotics, and get a vaccination.

And since Thursday was just practice, the pill bottles were filled with candy. The vaccines were flu shots.

"This preparation takes planning, training, and exercising. If you don't exercise, so you really don't know what your plans are, so you need to do this periodically," said Giesen.

This event won't only help in an athrax outbreak.

"This type of exercise helps us respond to floods, tornadoes, severe weather. Really any type of emergency. So this is an exercise for both public health, but other community and county organizations as well," said Giesen.

That is reassuring to those who were at Thursday's drill.

"I thought this was a great experience. It was very well organized and its good to know that if a big natural disaster of some sort happened, we would be prepared to know how to respond to it and that's great," said Podulke.

The drill is federally mandated, and is done every three years. Because of the H1N1 outbreak in 2009 and 2010, the last drill was done in 2008.