ONALASKA, Wisconsin (WXOW) – Fall is the start of flu season.
The La Crosse County Health Department trained at Onalaska High School Saturday to be ready in the event of a large-scale outbreak.
The Ho-Chunk, Houston, La Crosse and Trempealeau County Health Departments pooled their resources and created triage, registration, information and dispensing stations for the clinic. Some mass outbreaks can be so large, the health department said they're required to vaccinate the entire county population within 48 hours.
That's around 116,000 people, according to the United States Census Bureau.
While La Crosse County hasn't been faced with that kind of epidemic in recent memory, every few years they train to be prepared, said County Health Educator Paula Silha.
"We don't know when a public health emergency may occur. I mean, it could be next week – then we would have a recent exercise to work off of – or it could not be for several years," she said.
As part of the clinic, County Health staff dispensed flu vaccine.
"It hits you really fast and you're going to come up with a cough a fever, body aches, chills," said Sarah Spah, public health nursing manager.
While there are no reported flu cases in Wisconsin yet this season, Spah said flu season is coming. But she's not sure when.
"It's really hard to predict. In 2012, the first week of December, we had 113 cases; Compared to only seven cases in 2011 that same week," Spah said.
Spah said the county did consider having a mass dispensing clinic in 2009 after the H1N1 outbreak. But vaccination was delivered so slowly, the county health department distributed it in small groups.
About 100 people got their flu shots this afternoon.
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