Friday, October 9, 2009
BOH plans public H1N1 flu clinics
Plans are being developed to hold federally funded H1N1 inoculation clinics in Carlisle this fall for youth age five to 18. The Carlisle Board of Health (BOH) and the Carlisle Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) met jointly on September 27 to begin planning the clinics.
The MRC was formed two years ago by the BOH to coordinate medical professionals and other volunteeers who would be available to help following disasters or during public health emergencies (see “Will Carlisle be ready in an emergency?” Mosquito, August 14). On Tuesday, October 6, the BOH appointed Dr. William Hoffman of Autumn Lane to serve as the volunteer Medical Director to oversee the vaccination effort.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending the highest priority for H1N1 vaccinations be given for pregnant women, as well as children or adults under age 64 with health conditions. The next priority is for children ages six months to 24 years, who represent over 50% of reported H1N1 cases todate. BOH Agent Linda Fantasia later explained that “most towns are adapting the CDC recommendations” and Carlisle is focusing efforts on school-age youth in town. She noted that younger children and people with health problems were being encouraged to seek vaccinations from their regular healthcare providers.
While times and dates have not been decided, two or more clinics are planned since children younger than ten will need a second inoculation approximately 21 days after the first. At the second clinic it is possible that adults over 24 will be able to receive the vaccine, noted Fantasia at the meeting. The group also agreed that “no adult will be turned away.” MRC Co-Chair Mary de Alderete noted the town of Acton is setting up “drive-thru” clinics. “Maybe we could partner with them, and Carlisle residents could go over that way.”
The BOH and Carlisle School coordination is getting underway. According to Carlisle School Superintendent Marie Doyle, “The state has decided that the local Board of Health should oversee any potential vaccine administration.” Fantasia said she and Doyle participated in a recent regional MRC conference call with 34 MetroWest communities. “All of the communities present are planning to hold clinics this fall first for the target population but eventually for everyone,” Fantasia said. Towns such as Weston, Natick and Wayland are planning in-school clinics.
However, Fantasia expressed concern about the school participation,explaining, “Doyle said the school nurses are very busy.” BOH member Mark Caddell said he would meet with Doyle to explore whether the clinics could be set up at the school. “It’s a preventable disease,” said Fantasia. Caddell agreed. “It’s a huge upside for the kids.”
Reached on September 28, Doyle said the school “will assist in any way.” She added, “We are more than happy to share facilities.” Doyle suggested the clinics be held on Saturdays, using either the gym or the cafeteria, but if they were held during the school day, “they could use the Corey lobby.”
Everything paid by federal grants
According to the CDC’s “Weekly 2009 H1N1 Flu Media Briefing” (www.cdc.gov/media/transcripts/2009/t090925.htm) the H1N1 flu vaccine is being funded and distributed differently from the seasonal flu vaccine. The goal is that through federally funded public clinics the release of the vaccine should ensure rapid country-wide inoculations in a shortest amount of time. Funds in the form of grants are available to pay for everything from police overtime to purchasing a refrigerator to store the vaccine.
Fantasia asked if the committee “wanted to activate your MRC?” The group agreed to proceed with vaccination plans. Fantasia said she will send out an email alert to the 37 medical volunteers, who include 28 nurses and a number of physicians, dentists and pharmacists. Brem said he will attend the next Board of Selectmen’s meeting to update them on the H1N1 clinics and will notify the Carlisle Fire and Police Chiefs. Fantasia said she will register for vaccine supplies by October 10. She noted that MRC volunteers working under “Town Hall authority” have broad liability coverage. The group estimated they could handle roughly 300 vaccinations an hour.
A complete package of information, including parental consent forms, will be sent to the town after Fantasia registers for supplies. Yet to be resolved is whether all students should be accompanied by parents or just the children under ten. The next scheduled MRC Executive Committe meeting is Tuesday, October 13. ∆
© 2009 The