Public Health and Human Services to hosts 13 counties for public health exercise Feb. 8
(COLUMBIA, MO) - The Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services Department (PHHS) is hosting public health agencies from 12 other counties for a smallpox mass vaccination clinic exercise. The exercise will take place on Friday, Feb. 8 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Memorial Baptist Church in Columbia, 1634 Paris Road.
The exercise scenario is responding to an individual who was exposed to smallpox on a return flight to the United States by a lab worker who had a lab accident and didn't know they were infected at the time. PHHS would like to emphasize that this is not a real threat nor a current concern, it’s an exercise to increase preparedness.
"During a public health emergency, such as an outbreak of a highly contagious disease, it is important that public health is capable of quickly responding to the event, this can not be done without preparing," PHHS Senior Planner Rebecca Estes said. "When exercising worst-case scenarios, such as the return of an otherwise eradicated disease, it allows public health staff and other emergency preparedness partners to gain familiarity with working style, reinforce planning and identify areas for improvement. Every exercise is an opportunity to make a response to a real event effective, appropriate and successful."
This multi-county group regularly participates in tabletop or virtual exercises but does not often get the opportunity to participate in a functional exercise like this. In addition to the 13 counties, this exercise will include members of the Columbia/Boone County Medical Reserve Corps, local hospitals, Boone County Office of Emergency Management, senior or rehabilitative living facilities and nursing students from the area. There will also be staff from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the State Emergency Management Agency on site to observe the exercise.
"In central Missouri, we are fortunate enough to have collaborative partners throughout the public health discipline. In the case of emergency preparedness and response, this is no different," Estes said.
Participating public health agencies are from the following counties: Callaway, Cole, Boone, Montgomery, Osage, Miller, Audrain, Morgan, Cooper, Howard, Gasconade and Camden.
Media partners are welcome to drop in to cover the exercise.