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Fairfax County runs emergency vaccination exercise

Tuesday - 6/28/2011, 11:11am  ET

Workers during the exercise at Kilmer Middle School in Vienna, Va. (Max Smith/WTOP Photo)

Max Smith,

VIENNA, Va. - Officials took a practice run today, preparing for possible pandemics or terror attacks.

Volunteers and staff in Fairfax County set up a vaccination clinic to test new procedures developed after last year's H1N1 scare.

"This is the type of plan that we would hopefully not have to break out unless there was a vaccine shortage or a new strain of influenza that required us to respond in this way," says Marc Barbiere, the emergency management coordinator for the Fairfax County Health Department.

The exercise included logistical work Friday night to get setup materials distributed to Glasgow Middle School in Alexandria and Kilmer Middle School in Vienna. That work simulated a mid-scale response that would require ten vaccination centers to be opened in schools across the county.

"Our concern is... are we able to set up multiple sites, get the materials out, get the staff out, and get them ready to open in a timely fashion?" says Barbiere.

"We use these types of clinics for all sorts of emergency responses. If we have to do an anthrax response, god forbid, or any other terrorism incident, it's the same kind of model just some different variabilities. So, the more we test it the better we get at it," he adds.

There were some minor hiccups at both sites, like timing issues, volunteers taking a few minutes to figure out the walkie-talkies, misplaced forms, and responsibilities that had to be reshuffled, but, the Health Department says, that's what practice is for. Overall, the department says everything went as planned.

After a post-exercise review, Barbiere says plans will be tweaked to reflect any new lessons learned.

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