The retrospective on the response to H1N1 has begun as the pandemic has been identified as one of the biggest news stories of 2009. NACCHO has provided links to the latest research and publications about the lessons learned on our resources page, as well as our searchable Stories from the Field database.
Even as there is some hindsight on the pandemic, the vaccination campaign continues. With the expanded availability of vaccine, there is a window of opportunity for widening the reach of the vaccination campaign before the potential third wave anticipated. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu season typically continues until May and the range of spread of H1N1 during that time cannot yet be predicted.
H1N1 Lessons Learned
The Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released their seventh annual report in December:“Ready or Not? Protecting the Public''s Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism." TFAH summarized the report in a press release: "Overall, the report found that the investments made in pandemic and public health preparedness over the past several years dramatically improved U.S. readiness for the H1N1 outbreak. But it also found that decades of chronic underfunding meant that many core systems were not at-the-ready."
In November, the Harvard School of Public Health presented a discussion of lessons learned about pandemic planning by state and public health agencies through their experiences with H1N1. The lectures are available via Webinar on the school''s Web site. The importance of coordinating messages with the media was highlighted as an integral part of pandemic planning.
Polls: Public Perception and Availability of Vaccine
A CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) released on December 25 reports the results of an assessment of intent to receive H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccine in two counties in North Carolina. The report found that 64 percent of adults intended to receive the H1N1 vaccine. Reasons for not wanting to go under the needle included “belief in a low likelihood of infection (18%) and concern over vaccine side effects (14%); 85% of participants said they received their H1N1 information from television.”
In a poll released this month, the Harvard School of Public Health found that vaccine was available to many nationwide, but not to all who tried to receive it. Three-quarters of parents who tried to get the vaccine for their children were able to do so. The study also concluded that 22 percent of adults in high priority groups for the vaccine have received it.
As part of National Influenza Vaccination Week, on January 11 from 1 P.M. – 2:30 P.M. E.S.T. NACCHO will sponsor a webinar discussing local health department (LHD) and community agencies use of alternative influenza vaccination clinic sites. Speakers will include a representative from Vote & Vax, an organization working to provide vaccinations at polling places nationwide, as well as staff from two LHDs. Register online.
NACCHO’S H1N1 resources web page lists these and other useful publications, tools and other resources.