University Conducts Drill with Flu Shots; Tests Emergency Preparedness

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Byline: Anu Nathan, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The University of Maryland staged a mass three-hour vaccination exercise Thursday, aiming to inoculate 2,000 students, faculty members and staff against the seasonal flu to test the school's preparedness for a large-scale outbreak.

Kelly Kesler, the university health center's assistant director of health promotion, said the exercise was an opportunity for officials to test how fast they could mobilize in the event of an emergency.

"The University of Maryland is a POD - point of distribution site - for the campus population, and if needed the surrounding community. So this was a good event to gauge our emergency preparedness, not just for vaccinations but also, for instance, the distribution of water or masks in the event of a national disaster.

This particular exercise is very unique, because it was an actual simulation. In most places, preparedness is tested via tabletop exercises or expert projections, she said.

Doors opened 15 minutes before the 3.30 p.m. start time because of the large number of students who had gathered outside the university's Ritchie Coliseum despite the rain. …