A drive-through influenza vaccination Point of Distribution exercise (Flu POD) was conducted at the Lovelock Community Center on Oct. 7. Multiple organizations and volunteers participated in the event and highlighted the benefits of local cooperation. Officials said that overall, the exercise was a tremendous success that demonstrated the ability to conduct a mass vaccination event.

Annual influenza infections remain a concern for the local community. Coupled with a general shortage of healthcare access in Pershing County, a community-wide flu POD has become an important way to increase vaccination rates and bolster community health readiness. In previous years the Flu POD was coordinated by the Community Health Nurse (CHN) for Pershing and Humboldt counties. Since her retirement without on-site replacement, this year’s POD was coordinated by the Pershing County Safety Officer and the Emergency Manager, with exceptional assistance from the State Department of Public and Behavioral Health.

Participants: Pershing County Safety Director, Pershing County Emergency Manager / Grass Valley VFD, Pershing County Health Officer, Pershing County Sheriff’s Office and Posse, Pershing County School District, Pershing General Hospital, Lovelock VFD, State of Nevada, Dept of Public and Behavioral Health, CHN Yerington, CHN Fernley, CHN Dayton, CHN Pershing / Humboldt Counties, Lovelock Pharmacy, and Local volunteers.

The Flu POD was conducted as a drive-through event at the Lovelock Community Center.

222 community members received the flu vaccine during this event. This is down from nearly 350 last year, and over 450 vaccinations pre-COVID. This reduced level of interest is consistent with the experience of Humboldt County, who conducted a drive-through POD earlier in the same week. 

In the absence of an assigned Community Health Nurse, the Pershing County Safety Director did an exceptional job of planning for this Flu POD. Arrangements for vaccine delivery and administration, the use of the Lovelock Community Center, food and drinks for staff and all other logistics were flawless. Planning communications were inclusive and highly transparent to all participants and should be used as a model for future events.

The State of Nevada, Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public and Behavioral Health, Community Services, was instrumental in making this event work. CHN III Tammy Ritter, RN arranged for vaccines, supplies, and CHNs from other areas to participate and administer vaccines and record all necessary data in WebIZ. Special thanks are also due to the following CHNs and staff for their assistance: Pamela Krause, RN, CHN Fernley, Dena Mattice, RN, CHN Yerington, Dawn Scheetz, RN, CHN Dayton, Luana Ackland, CHN Fernley, Monica Sartor, RN, CHN Humboldt / Pershing, Susy Esquivel, CHN Humboldt / Pershing.

The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office provided key logistics support, coordinating traffic control efforts by Sheriff’s Posse members David Skelton and Tom Bjerke, in addition to setting up traffic control signs, traffic cones and shade tents. As always, PCSO personnel demonstrated the highest degree of professionalism and cooperation. 

Advertising was conducted through social media, flyers, and announcements in the local newspaper, at least two weeks in advance of the event. It was the general consensus of community members that anyone who wanted a flu shot, was aware of the opportunity to get one at the POD. 

Local involvement and cooperation were exemplary, said officials. Pershing County School District Nurse Christina Dickerman, RN assisted with vaccinations, as did Inna Edwards from the Lovelock Pharmacy and the County Health Officer Tyson McBride. The Lovelock Volunteer Fire Department and Pershing General Hospital provided additional medical supplies in case of allergic reactions to the vaccine. Special thanks are due to Larry and Barbara Rackley, who once again volunteered their time to help conduct check-ins. The success of this event re-affirms the many benefits of small-town life and local cooperation.