The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 18, 2009

BOH ponders flu clinics for H1N1

On September 15 the Carlisle Board of Health (BOH) decided to base their decision about town- or school-based vaccination of children against the H1N1 influenza virus (“swine flu”) on what the town of Concord does. Essentially, “we should do a coordinated effort with Concord . . . if they choose to do clinics, we should” as well, BOH chair Jeffrey Brem said.

According to the most recent “influenza guidance” from the Massachusetts DPH (www.mass.gov/Eeohhs2/docs/dph/cdc/flu/swine_guidance_school_childcare.pdf) , “schools will need to work closely with local boards of health, community vaccinators, parents, students and healthcare providers to ensure that students are vaccinated.”

According to BOH Agent Linda Fantasia, there would be few if any costs to the town in running an H1N1 flu clinic, since federal/state funding will be available to cover costs – both for planning and for the expenses of holding clinics, such as medical supplies, food, staff time and any needed police details or janitorial service.

Prior to the September 15 meeting Fantasia had provided to BOH members, Carlisle School Superintendent Marie Doyle and School Nurse Kathy Horan a summary of what she learned from a regional meeting of health department representatives: vaccination for H1N1 is not mandatory, but recommended for everyone. Initial target groups are children and young people (six months to 24 years old); pregnant women; household members and caregivers of infants less than six months old; adults 25 to 64 at-risk for complications due to other health problems (e.g. heart disease, asthma, diabetes); healthcare providers and EMS staff.

The “overall recommendation is that offering clinics - when, where and how, needs to be a community decision” involving health, school, emergency preparedness and town government leaders, according to Fantasia’s report from the meeting.

22 area towns to hold vaccination clinics

To date, 63% of confirmed cases of swine flu have been in children under 18, of whom over 8% have been hospitalized. All of the 22 communities present at the meeting plan to hold vaccination clinics this fall, most or all school-based, initially for school children, but eventually for everyone. Details of plans for the towns of Acton, Weston, Natick, Wayland, Marlboro and Stow were described.

The initial distribution of 800,000 vaccines for the state should be in early to mid-October. Each week thereafter 40,000 doses will be distributed. Enough H1N1 vaccine for the full target population should be available by mid-November.

Much of the discussion among the representatives at the regional meeting was about when to hold the clinics - during the school day, on weekends or after school.

Concord advises prevention

According to Concord Public Health Director Brent Reagor, the town of Concord is currently stressing vaccination against seasonal flu and the standard measures to prevent the spread of illness. The health department will coordinate any town-based H1N1 vaccination with all public and private schools, based on a “current picture of the outbreak and [citizens’] access through their personal health care providers” to vaccination. Concord has two large health care practices and a community hospital within its borders, Reagor pointed out.

H1N1 links

• Concord Health Department website www.concordma.gov/pages/concordma_health/H1N1Information.

• Links to CDC latest suggestions on planning for school-based vaccination and to DPH resources for school and other groups; weekly updates on H1N1 in Massachusetts: http://publichealth.blog.state.ma.us/h1n1-swine-flu/.

• Influenza guidance for schools from MA DPH: www.mass.gov/Eeohhs2/docs/dph/cdc/flu/swine_guidance_school_childcare.pdf. ∆


© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito