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Clackamas Fire, county officials organizing event that will include immunizations, emergency drills

Clackamas Fire is planning its third Resource Fair to take place Wednesday, Nov. 6, at Clackamas Town Center.

PMG FILE PHOTO: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Clackamas Fire Community Paramedic Amy Jo Cook applies a bandage to Daniel Knight's arm after giving him a flu shot during Resource Fair in 2017.Previous fairs held in November 2017 and February 2019 have provided services for about 100 people — many from the local homeless population — at Barclay Park in Oregon City. This will be the fire district's first vaccine clinic in Clackamas, after holding the clinic in OC the past couple of years.

Additionally, the fire district and Clackamas County will use this event as a practice run for future emergency situations. Erica Gillespie, the county immunization coordinator, said Clackamas Fire's large tents with heating — to provide a safe, warm place for participants to gather and obtain resources — is the perfect venue for emergency-preparedness activities.

Gillespie said the fire district has practice in creating a one-directional flow for maximal efficiency during emergency-preparedness drills, such as a line of people waiting to obtain water. She's looking forward to firefighters showing the county's immunization program techniques for orderly use of a check-in station accessing the statewide immunization registry before determining who needs which vaccines.

"The whole point is to prepare for a large-scale response when we need to get out immunizations to everyone in the community, such as with a bioterrorist attack or a pandemic," Gillespie said.

She plans for a much smaller-scale free immunization effort on Nov. 6, with flu vaccines for 400 people, and 150 each covering Hepatitis A and measles/mumps/rubella, all provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

Clackamas Community College and Walla Walla University nursing students, overseen by their professional instructors, will help give immunizations at the event.

"Hepatitis A has been outbreaking locally, especially in the homeless community, and we don't want it to spread to the larger community," Gillespie said.

Firefighters were able to convince Clackamas Town Center to allow the use of a portion of the shopping mall's parking lot at a busy time of year for holiday shopping.

"The team has really put in the time and effort to make that happen, and I'm curious how long the vaccines will last," said Clackamas Fire spokesman Brandon Paxton.

Paxton noted many serious infectious diseases are at or near record low levels in the U.S. because of vaccines.

"Unfortunately, in recent years low vaccination rates have led to outbreaks of these diseases, which demonstrates the dangers of people choosing not to vaccinate," he said.

A local volunteer has gotten credit from Clackamas Fire and county officials for advocating a new location for free vaccinations. Clackamas Rotary Club member Bob Johnson, after reading all the reports of measles outbreaks in Oregon and Washington, contacted Clackamas Fire Chief Fred Charlton, another member of the club.

Charlton put Johnson in touch with Clackamas Fire's community paramedic AmyJo Cook, who then contacted a slew of other agencies. Participants at previous Resource Fairs have included local officials offering employment, dental care, HIV testing/resources, laundry, assistance with pets, insurance signups, mental health/addiction resources, veterans outreach, clean/sober housing and access to the Department of Human Services.

"Bringing the resources to one location helps individuals who are challenged by geography, transportation and finances," Cook said.

After participants sign in, they get a backpack filled with bottled water, hand warmers, socks and snacks.

"Participants were encouraged to engage in the resources with a card to gather stickers for each of their interactions," Cook said. "At the end of the visit, the cards were turned in for a food card, and a knit hat or gloves."

This year's Resource Fair is 2:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, at the corner of Monterey and 82nd avenues.

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