Mass inoculation was no miracle, just good work

If it were a biblical parable, they might call it “the needling of the five thousand.”

Perhaps apropos that Wednesday’s mass inoculation for the H1N1 virus – the goal: some 5,000 Kitsap residents in such targeted groups as the young, the infirm, the pregnant – was held in a house of worship. But there was nothing miraculous about the Kitsap County Health District’s ability to pull off a large-scale inoculation clinic virtually overnight. They’ve been practicing for a few years now.

“I’m pleased we were able to get the clinic up and running in a week, with what looks like good response so far,” Health District Director Dr. Scott Lindquist told reporters, as flu-wary residents thronged through Silvedale’s United Methodist Church toward the waiting syringes. The logistics of H1N1 vaccination have to date been thus: each week, one or two shipments of the vaccine arrive in Kitsap County, to be shuttled to area physicians and pharmacies; the Health District’s goal has been to not “sit on” any doses over a weekend. Recently, health officials noticed that the demand from physicians was waning, ergo the mass event: 5,000 shots available, announced on Tuesday, offered on Wednesday.

While it might seem like short notice, the event tested the ability of county health officials to mobilize for a greater emergency. With more than 50 volunteers on the scene, it appeared they passed the test.

For the record, Wednesday’s event put the inoculating needle into an estimated 550 arms – meaning there’s supply left for those who want it. And beginning Monday, the Health District will make the vaccine available to all, not just at-risk groups.

But on this day, Lindquist said, “We’re here to serve the least, the littlest and the last” — sounding rather parable-like there, too.

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