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Cities Readiness Initiative Prepared Health Officials to Confront H1N1

January 6, 2009

Woman behind chartAs a result of local health officials'' planning and executing the daunting mass vaccination campaign for H1N1, there were important outcomes. The efforts of local health departments and their response strategies were indicators of the success of planning systems put in place after September 11, 2001.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health serves a population of 886,000 in the Greater Cleveland Area. Terry Allan, Health Commissioner with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, contributed the following story from the field that provides useful insight on how the Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI) led to the success of their vaccination campaign. 

The CRI project was launched in 2004 as a pilot project to devise ways of distributing medicine and supplies in the event of a public health emergency. At its start, 21 cities came on board. There are now 72 cities participating, with at least one in each state.

The Rand Corporation published their "Initial Evaluation of the Cities Readiness Initiative" in 2009.

Story from the Field: Cuyahoga County Board of Health

Since 2002, LHD''s throughout the United States have been working with their local communities to build the capacity to dispense vaccines and antibiotics rapidly. In 2004, this project was established as the Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI). Although there have been many tabletop and functional exercises to test this planning process, the H1N1 vaccination campaign was the first test of this planning investment.

Upon receiving notification that LHD''s would plan an integral role in delivering vaccine to their communities very quickly, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health — like many other local health departments around the country — activated their CRI plan.

The H1N1 vaccination campaign is living proof that the national investment in CRI coordinated by the CDC and implemented at the local level works very effectively. Our planning efforts in recruiting community volunteers, engaging the medical community and local first responders and disseminating public information have been very successful because of this investment. Our ability to deliver vaccines to large numbers of people very rapidly has been clearly demonstrated.

The positive press coverage; the community appreciation displayed by the public''s letters, editorials, emails and phone calls; the solidification of a strong community volunteer base; and tremendous goodwill generated among all of the partners through this extraordinary community effort will pay dividends as we address other public health priorities in Greater Cleveland and around the country.

NACCHO''s Questions to You

Did you find that the CRI adequately prepared local health departments to confront a pandemic crisis? Was H1N1 a good test of its usefulness, or is the plan more useful in the event of a bioterrorism or nuclear attack? Please share your comments below. Your e-mail address will not appear on the blog. Thank you. 

Contribute your own stories from the field by filling out our online form.


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