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H1N1 Challenges

November 11, 2009

Doctor with paperThe funding issues that were mentioned in Monday’s post are reflected in several reports featured on the H1N1 Web site that show the impact of H1N1 on the health sector, as well as communities and businesses. While these reports demonstrate the potential roadblocks in implementing effective vaccination and treatment, they also bring to light the LHDs’ successful emergency preparedness and planning programs.  One report describes a “spirit of calm determination” that has been palpable since April.

Some of the issues that were uncovered are now being addressed by lawmakers. Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn) is calling for a new bill that will give all employees of businesses larger than 15 people seven days paid sick leave in the event of contracting H1N1 influenza. There is currently no active legislation requiring employers to offer paid sick leave, as was pointed out in a report from the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) that was released in October.

In addition to the impact of budget cuts on LHDs, TFAH’s issue brief, H1N1 Challenges Ahead, points to the lack of health care coverage for over 47 million Americans as another major factor in H1N1’s impact on the economy.

Between April and August of this year, NACCHO teamed up with Burness Communications to track the news media reports on LHDs'' H1N1 Activities. Released in September, Local Decisions, Local Action outlined several reports on funding cuts to LHDs from sources including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Columbus Dispatch, the San Jose Mercury News, and the New York Times.

Overall, the media accounts “strongly suggest that the local health system functioned well”—despite facing funding cuts and the daunting task of mass vaccination. It also points to cases of strong planning and innovation, such as the Boston Influenza Preparedness Summit in August.

The NACCHO H1N1 Resource Toolkit is a guide for local health departments to continue in preparing for and responding to the demands of the H1N1 outbreak. It is organized according to Incident Command Structure tasks and priorities. The "Mass Vaccination Checklist" can help ensure all details have been considered in planning a vaccination clinic. Also available: "Guideline for H1N1 Vaccination Clinics," provided by Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services in Texas, and "Arizona Influenza Pandemic Response Plan: Surveillance and Epidemiology," provided by the Arizona Department of Health Services.

There are also tools available for businesses anticipating the impact of H1N1 on their workforce and for planning to confront the event of a major outbreak.

Check the toolkit often to see new updates. Stay in touch with NACCHO to let us know about any ways other ways that we can help in facing the demands of confronting H1N1.


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