September 8, 2011

Upcoming drill aims for flu vaccine record

Featured Image

“Flulapalooza,” VUMC’s mass vaccination drill, is set for Wednesday, Oct. 12. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Upcoming drill aims for flu vaccine record

A mass vaccination drill, dubbed “Flulapalooza” and orchestrated by Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Office of Emergency Preparedness, will be held Wednesday, Oct. 12. Free flu vaccines will be given to all University and Medical Center faculty, staff, volunteers and students during the daylong event.

Although the official goal of the event is to test the Medical Center’s emergency mass vaccination plan as if there really were a pandemic, organizers of the event have a second goal —breaking the Guinness World Record for the most vaccines of any kind given in an eight-hour period.

The record currently stands at 6,217 and is held by Kaiser Permanente. Vanderbilt’s goal is to give 8,000 doses in eight hours.

The event, to be held under a tent on the grassy lawn between Light Hall and the VA Campus, will begin at 6 a.m. and end at 7 p.m., although the hours for Guinness World Record consideration are between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. A valid Vanderbilt ID is required to receive the free flu shot.

“The event is a flu exercise scenario to test for mass vaccination capability as if there were a new avian flu strain spreading throughout Asia and into Europe, with cases appearing in the United States. The effort to break the world record is being done to generate excitement and increase participation for the event,” said Melanie Swift, M.D., medical director of the Occupational Health Clinic.

“Managers can help by directing their staff to attend at staggered times throughout the day.”

Vanderbilt Student Health is waiving the fee for University students who are normally charged for their flu shot.

Medical Center shuttles and large motorized carts will be available throughout the day to bring University faculty, staff and students to the Flulapalooza tent if they prefer not to walk.

“The Healthy People 2020 goal for health care providers is a vaccination rate of 90 percent or higher,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, M.D., deputy vice chancellor for Health Affairs and CEO of the Vanderbilt Health System, who along with Marilyn Dubree, MSN, R.N., executive chief nursing officer, is an executive co-chair.

“We had a record high flu vaccine year in 2009 with the H1N1 pandemic, however, last season our Medical Center vaccination rate fell to 57 percent, about where it was before H1N1, which is disappointing,” Pinson said. “Although we don’t mandate that our faculty, staff and students receive a flu shot, we highly, highly encourage it.”

Dubree said Flulapalooza will be a quick and easy way to check having a flu shot off of your to-do list.

“The flu is not just a bad cold. In addition to short-term misery and having to miss work, the flu can have more serious implications. It’s a serious disease that causes illness, hospitalizations and deaths every year in the United States.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get their yearly flu vaccine as soon as the vaccine becomes available in their community. We’re making it easy, and would like to encourage all faculty, staff, volunteers and students to take a few minutes on Oct. 12 to participate in Flulapalooza,” Dubree said.

“In addition to getting your flu shot quickly and efficiently, you can also say that you participated in trying to break a Guinness World Record.”

The 2011-2012 flu vaccine will protect against the three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the season. This includes an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus and an influenza B virus.

There will be 44 nurses working simultaneously in the Flulapalooza tent, with 20 staff working to check people out after their shots. The team planning the exercise met with a University of Louisville representative, where a similar event was held in 2009, to plan the most efficient way to move four lines through the tent.

Organizers of the event, who won’t know until paperwork is submitted whether Vanderbilt has broken the world record, are also reminding participants to wear short sleeves or sleeveless shirts if possible. If you’re wearing a jacket, make sure it’s one that can be taken off for the inoculation.