Health Department prepares for potential outbreak


HERMITAGE, Pa. (WKBN) — The Mercer County Health Department tested how prepared it is for an outbreak of an infectious disease.

The goal is to see how it would handle giving out mass quantities of medicine. That’s exactly what it did on Saturday with a free flu shot clinic.

Several residents showed up for the free shot. The vaccine will help them fight the flu, but for the medical staff giving the shots, it’s a training exercise for dealing with infectious diseases.

“This is an all hazards approach so we want to make sure any event that would occur we’d be able to handle it exactly like this,” said Mercer County Direct of Public Safety, Frank Jannetti.

The drill has been going on for six years now. Each year it’s done the same way.

“We bring people in. We do medical screening, we register them, we bring them through the line,” Jannetti explained.

The clinic at the Shenango Valley Mall opened at 10 a.m. Saturday. In 12 minutes, it gave 117 flu vaccines.

“I’m self employed so when I get sick it doesn’t get done so, it’s very important,” said Robert Perz of West Middlesex.

Albert Boland, Mercer County’s Pandemic Coordinator, said it takes a year to prepare for the drill. That also includes monitoring global health issues and taking note what’s going on with the flu in other continents. Right now, Boland said it’s too early for a flu outlook in the U.S.

“What we’re seeing is a little bit of excitement predominately because of Ebola but also issues relative to children with the respiratory virus in Colorado,” said Boland.

400 free flu shots were given Saturday. Several public and private agencies all took part.

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