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Jefferson County Public Health also provided free flu shots at fairgrounds Friday afternoon

HOLLY SCHOLZ/MADRAS PIONEER
 - Jefferson County Public Health Registered Nurse Tara Peschel gives a flu vaccine to Bailey Brown, of Madras, during the drive-thru COVID-19 test and flu shot clinic last Friday at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. A total of 127 people received vaccines, and 158 were tested for COVID-19.

Culver resident Sandra Cook headed to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds Friday afternoon to get a shot and a nose swab.

She wanted to know if by chance she had been exposed to COVID-19. She also wanted to protect herself from influenza.

Cook was just one of 158 people who took advantage of the free Jefferson County Public Health drive-thru COVID-19 test and flu vaccine clinic from noon to 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23 at the fairgrounds.

"I'm obviously slightly biased, but I think the event went great. The level of partnership highlights once again how this community comes together," said Public Health Director Michael Baker.

Jefferson County Public Health received new Abbot BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests as part of the countywide COVID-19 testing strategy, said Public Health spokeswoman Tami Kepa'a.

As cars lined up in the fairgrounds parking lot, Public Health personnel and local partners from Latino Community Association, Emergency Medical Services and Oregon Health Authority assisted visitors with completing demographic forms and paperwork for the services they requested.

Meanwhile, Jefferson County Emergency Medical Services Chief Mike Lepin, located under the first tent with his crew, was in charge of the rapid-screening COVID-19 tests.

"These two are my swabbers," Lepin said, pointing to two emergency medical responders outfitted in medical garb. The "swabbers" would gently insert the end of a long Q-tips-looking swap into the person's nostril.

"These two are documenting the actual test itself," Lepin said, motioning toward two additional crew members. "Then, they give it to me, and I can read the test."

Lepin would put the bagged nasal swab test and paperwork in a plastic tub.

"I let it cook for 15 minutes and then after that, I can tell you if it's negative or positive. It's much like a pregnancy test – one or two lines," he said.

Of the 158 who underwent the COVID-19 test Friday, only one test came up positive. That person received a phone call within the hour.

Those who tested negative received a phone call by Monday.

HOLLY SCHOLZ/MADRAS PIONEER
 - Jefferson County Public Health Registered Nurses Tara Peschel, left, and Courtney Meyer ask Dalia Aguiar questions before administering a flu vaccine to her during the free clinic last Friday. Antonia Botero, right, of Latino Community Association, serves as interpreter. Seemingly as popular, the drive-thru clinic also offered free flu vaccines for those 19 or older.

Bailey Brown, of Madras, came to the clinic for a flu shot because she did not want to have to stand in line at a pharmacy with people who might be sick.

Antonia Botero, of the Latino Community Association, interpreted the nurses' message about the flu vaccine to Madras resident Dalia Aguiar. Botero said her organization is doing COVID-19 outreach and education and working with the Public Health to reach Latinos.

During the drive-thru clinic on Friday, 127 people received the flu vaccine.

Baker said the majority of clinic patients chose to receive both the COVID-19 test and the flu shot.

Public Health recommended that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms be tested, however, many people were allowed to be tested regardless of symptoms. They included: close contacts of confirmed or presumptive cases; people exposed to COVID-19 in a congregate setting, such as residential care facilities, childcare facilities, group homes and schools; migrant and seasonal agricultural workers; people who identify as Black, Latino, Native American, Asian or Pacific Islander; people who have a disability; and people whose first language is not English.

"The guidelines that we posted were directly from Oregon Health Authority," Baker said. "They weren't meant to exclude anyone. They were meant to prioritize the populations that have been hardest hit, and especially here in Jefferson County."

Baker said his staff recorded COVID-19 test results in the state system over the weekend, calling it "a pretty extensive data input."

He said the free clinic is a good way to get an estimate of the population of highly vulnerable demographics and to see who is most concerned about the virus. He noted that they had served a lot of seniors but also families and individuals.

"We'll look at the demographics of who came so we can know who to target in our message," Baker said.

Public Health staff are currently evaluating the After Action Report and considering if another event is need, and if so, which local community would be the best location.  


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