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Medical Reserve Corps to conduct immunization drill today

WORTHINGTON — A team of Medical Reserve Corps volunteers will be at Worthington Middle School this morning to conduct a training drill and immunization clinic for sixth-grade students.

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The exercise is in response to a new mandate requiring that all students be vaccinated for TDAP (Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis), meningitis and chicken pox prior to entering the seventh grade. By conducting the immunization clinic as a training exercise, the Nobles County Community Services public health agency received free vaccine from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Twenty Medical Reserve Corps volunteers will participate in the exercise today to immunize sixth-graders from Worthington Middle School, Worthington Christian and St. Mary’s. A second drill and clinic is planned Wednesday in the Adrian, Brewster and Ellsworth school districts.

Terri Janssen, Community Health Services Administrator, said more than 125 sixth-graders will receive the three immunizations during the drills.

Approximately 250 students in Nobles County were eligible for the vaccine. Any student could be immunized, whether covered under private insurance or not.

Janssen said consent letters were sent to parents of all students notifying them of the free clinic. Some parents said their child had already received the doses during physical exams, while other parents were waiting or wanted more information.

“(Some) aren’t sure why they need it yet because there hasn’t been a lot written (about the new requirements),” Janssen said.

With MMR and meningitis outbreaks in the news in recent years, Janssen said the immunization clinics are hoped to ward off a similar outbreak from occurring here.

“Kids are more congregated and people are more mobile,” Janssen said. “The benefits of having the additional vaccine outweigh the risks. We don’t want anybody to get meningitis.”

School nurses and staff were instrumental in helping to organize the immunization clinics by checking with students and parents to determine who was in need of the vaccinations.

Of the 20 MRC volunteers assisting today, many are nurses but others have experience in non-medical professions.

“For each nurse we need several non-medical people — ushers, form clerks, injection aides,” Public Health Nurse Cindy Frederickson said. “We’re so grateful for their assistance — they’ve been wonderful.”

The local public health agency has been working to increase its volunteer network in the Medical Reserve Corps. At the end of 2013, there were 54 volunteers on the list. That number has grown in recent weeks as more individuals ask to be a part of the team.

“The Medical Reserve Corps would be called up and activated through the Commissioner of Health and the governor would issue an emergency,” explained Janssen, adding that the immunization clinic is a good practice drill for corps members.

“It helps us for planning a potential disaster,” she said.

“When you do an exercise, it really prepares our Medical Reserve Corps for an actual event,” Frederickson added. “They’re familiar with the setting, an incident command system and a medical counter-measures dispensing program.”

Frederickson said the training exercise and immunization clinic will also meet the requirements for Nobles County’s 2014 Emergency Preparedness grant.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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