Archived News

Veterinary Students Help Flu Clinic and Train for Mass Vaccination

December 5, 2007

University of California, Davis, News Service

December 5, 2007


Veterinary students from the Veterinary Emergency Response Team of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine will join other volunteers from throughout the county on December 8 to assist at a public flu vaccination clinic and training event in West Sacramento.

The free vaccination clinic will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Russian Baptist Church, 1000 Sacramento Ave., West Sacramento. The clinic is being coordinated by the Yolo County Health Department.

Although the veterinary students are trained to administer vaccines to their four-legged patients, during this human-health clinic and drill, they will be helping with medical screening and triage, and serving as "runners."

"By participating in this clinic, the students will gain valuable experience that will prepare them to assist should a local mass vaccination ever be needed, perhaps to deal with a pandemic influenza," said John Madigan, a UC Davis veterinary professor and coordinator of the Veterinary Emergency Response Team. "In such an emergency, it is likely that veterinarians, animal health technicians and veterinary students will be called upon to help."

Valerie Lucus, UC Davis' emergency manager, praised the veterinary students' effort. "The university has a comprehensive emergency management system to respond to events that happen on campus or in the community," Lucus said, "and these students are helping to spread the word about the importance of being prepared for widespread problems."

Indeed, Cheryl Boney, deputy director of public health programs for Yolo County, said: "This drill will help the students and other volunteers learn what the flow of the clinic would be like during a public health vaccination emergency.

"In a real event, the veterinary students' science background will equip them to help screen clients, communicate with the lead public health staff and assist with vaccinations," Boney said. "That, in turn, will free up the physicians and nurses, who may be available but in short supply, to deal with more complex clinical issues."

The Veterinary Emergency Response Team is made up of volunteer veterinary faculty members, technicians and students. The team is activated within Yolo County at the discretion of the Yolo County Office of Emergency Services, which can also make the team available to assist in other counties.

Media contact(s):

* John Madigan, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, (530) 304-1212,

* Cheryl Boney, Yolo County Health Department, (530) 666-8694,

* Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843,


The potential of pandemic influenza or other infectious disease emergencies to overtax our public health systems has led to the exploration of new contributions and roles for veterinary health professionals. Veterinarians already contribute to the prevention and control of zoonotic disease threats through animal diagnostic programs, veterinary research and emergency preparedness activities. As health professionals and scientists, the school's faculty, staff and students may be asked to lend expertise and practical assistance at the campus or state level during a public health emergency. 

At this time, school faculty from the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory system, Wildlife Health Center, Center for Comparative Medicine, California National Regional Primate and Research Center, and Veterinary Medicine Extension are pursuing: 

*Monitoring of wild birds on the Pacific Rim for signs of avian influenza
*Surveillance and testing of poultry
*International Flu School biosecurity and emergency preparedness program and other educational programs about avian flu
*Pre-clinical trials of new vaccine products
*Basic research on the behavior of influenza viruses and defenses against infection

A little bit more:
Avian influenza fact sheet from Veterinary Medicine Extension