Oak Bluffs holds off on H1N1 virus plan
The Oak Bluffs finance and advisory committee delayed action on the release of $10,000 from an emergency reserve fund to begin stockpiling supplies for mass inoculation of Island school children against the H1N1 virus, often called swine flu. The request came from Oak Bluffs emergency management director Peter Martell. Mr. Martell's plan was to buy a trailer, medical supplies, and other equipment to set up a mobile operation that would travel from school to school for a series of four inoculations.
"I can't impress upon you how serious this is," Mr. Martell said. "Demand is going to outstretch supply. Getting this equipment here is going to be essential."
Members of the finance committee questioned the expenditure, noting that it's not yet known when vaccines will be available, whether the supplies could be provided by local medical organizations, how costs of any Island-wide H1N1 flu prevention project would be shared by other Island towns, whether funds will be available from state and federal governments, and whether proper financial accountability controls are in place.
"It sounded very much like the annual flu shot," said finance and advisory committee chairman Mimi Davisson. "They've got it down to a science. It struck me that we should be building on that."
The committee voted 7-1 to postpone a vote on the request until its September 3 meeting, after they have heard more about the plan. A motion to provide $2,000 from the emergency reserve fund was defeated 5-3.
In a phone conversation with The Times the day after his request was turned down, Mr. Martell said he would move forward anyway, using a $2,500 grant from the state, supplemented by private donations, to implement advance planning.