Press Releases - 12/4/06
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 12/04/06
THREE LOCAL HEALTH DEPARTMENTS SPEARHEAD FLU VACCINE EXPANSION
Washington, D.C. (December 4, 2006)—
Local health departments in Houston, Los Angeles, and rural Nebraska will launch innovative flu vaccine services within two weeks, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) announced today. The departments aim to improve local flu vaccination, especially for high-risk groups.
The three programs will provide vaccinations well into the winter months, instead of only during the traditional October–November flu vaccination period. Vaccination will be available in new settings, such as Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program sites and even livestock sale barns.
Services will be targeted to poor families, farm families, pregnant women, mothers, and young children.
During the past two years, NACCHO and other public health organizations have shown heightened concern about the risks of a major flu outbreak.
About 36,000 Americans die of influenza every year. Health experts agree that vaccination is the most effective form of prevention. Ninety percent of the nation's 2,800 local health departments regularly provide vaccinations to children and adults against diseases like flu.
NACCHO is funding the new services through a competitive grant program sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline. "These exciting new services will point the way toward the goal of vaccinating everyone at risk, everywhere in America, every year," said NACCHO President Poki Stewart Namkung, MD, MPH.
The Houston effort centers on an education campaign for WIC program clients. Run by the city's Health and Human Services Department, the program will compare immunization rates of clients who receive the education services with rates of clients who do not receive them. The target group in Houston includes mothers and babies less than one year old.
Los Angeles' program, directed by that city's Department of Public Health, also focuses on WIC clients, in this case pregnant women and children between 6 months and 5 years old. An intensive education campaign is the centerpiece of the Los Angeles initiative.In Nebraska, the Public Health Solutions District Health Department for Fillmore, Gage, Jefferson, Saline, and Thayer Counties is launching a "Beef Up Immunization" campaign. Based in the town of Crete, the department will bring vaccination services to livestock barns on sale days in order to reach more residents of rural areas.
NACCHO is the national organization representing the nation's nearly 3,000 local health departments. These agencies work every day on the front lines to protect and promote the health of their communities. NACCHO develops resources and programs and promotes national policies that support effective local public health practice.