By Casey Crowley

ccrowley@bakercityherald.com

Some Baker County residents received a flu shot Tuesday without leaving their cars.

The Baker County Health and Emergency Management departments conducted an exercise that tested their ability to distribute medical supplies during a natural disaster or other emergency.

The event ran from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the former Oregon Department of Transportation property at 1050 S. Bridge St., which the county now owns, near Mount Hope Cemetery.

Residents could drive in to receive a flu shot as well as a first-aid kit, water and either a blanket or poncho.

In addition to boosting the county’s flu vaccination rate, the event served as a Point of Distribution (POD) exercise for county officials.

PODs are places where residents could go following a natural disaster to pick up medicine. Tuesday’s exercise was the first the county has done.

Although the first-aid kits, water and clothing were free, the flu shots weren’t. The county did bill insurance companies, most of which cover annual flu shots.

Participants could choose to stay in their vehicle while receiving the inoculation, but they did have to fill out forms.

The county is required to have plans for PODs but is not required to put on POD exercises such as Tuesday’s.

Alicia Hills, nurse supervisor at the Health Department, said that although the Bridge Street location wouldn’t work for a large-scale POD, the exercise helped officials plan for a real event.

And it helped reduce the risk of a flu outbreak.

“We really want everybody to get a flu shot every year,” Hills said.

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