Union Gospel Mission, health volunteers issue vaccinations as they practice for emergencies

Union Gospel Mission, health volunteers issue vaccinations as they practice for emergencies

rboone@theolympian.comNovember 2, 2013 

More than 50 adults braved the wind and wet weather Saturday to take advantage of a day of free vaccinations, including flu shots, at the Union Gospel Mission in downtown Olympia.

The day officially got underway at noon Saturday, but some lined up as early as 9 a.m., and at one point it was standing-room only, said Nicky Upson, who works in environmental health for Thurston County.

Saturday’s event was a joint effort between the Union Gospel Mission and the Thurston County Medical Reserve Corps — a group of local health professionals, including doctors and nurses, who have agreed to volunteer their time in the event of a public health emergency.

The Medical Reserve Corps, which is affiliated with the county Health Department, was formed after 9/11, said Dr. Britt Smith, a longtime family doctor at Group Health.

Saturday’s event wasn’t a public health emergency, Smith said, but such events are good practice for the volunteers.

Smith screened patients on Saturday, he said.

Eight vaccinations were available, including for measles, meningitis, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, flu, pneumonia and pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

Whooping cough rose to epidemic status in Washington state last year, and new cases continue to be reported, according to state Department of Health data.

The no-cost event catered to those who are uninsured or underinsured, and it attracted adults of various ages and backgrounds.

Curtis Stuard, 23, of Olympia, who was with his wife — who is seven months pregnant — said he was set on getting a shot for whooping cough and the flu.

“It’s important for the baby,” he said.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com

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