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Story from the Field

Name of Health Department/Agency: Fort Wayne-Allen County Health Department
State: IN
Date Added: 12/23/2009
Themes: Communications - Priority Groups
Issue Summary: LHD Addresses Language and Cultural Barriers to H1N1 Vaccination Among Hispanic and Burmese Populations in IN
Description of Issue(s): Studies in large American cities found that minorities, including blacks and Hispanics, are more likely to be hospitalized with the flu. These groups are likely to have flu complications because they disproportionately suffer from underlying health conditions like asthma and diabetes.

Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan is concerned that could be the case for Fort Wayne?s minority populations, spokesman John Silcox said.

The Fort Wayne-Allen County Health Department's H1N1 flu efforts have included a Web site, public-service announcements and advertising in local print and broadcast media. But because of language and cultural barriers, the message to get vaccinated might be lost among Spanish speakers, Silcox said.

Actions taken to address the issue(s): To get the message out, the department has bought Spanish-language billboards, created Spanish-language pamphlets and bought advertising in Spanish-language newspapers. Posters and other educational materials were distributed to Hispanic businesses, churches and social centers, the department said.

Department staff have also begun conducting small clinics in neighborhoods and community centers used by Burmese and Hispanic residents, Silcox said.

Monday, the department will have a clinic at St. Patrick's Catholic Church, which is home to many Hispanic parishioners.

The department has had small teams in urban child care centers like the Early Childhood Alliance to vaccinate children and at the St. Henry's community center to vaccinate Burmese residents, Silcox said.

Officials use the clinics to reach disadvantaged residents who might not have the resources or transportation to reach the main public clinic site at Carew Medical Park, he said.

The public-service advertisements also encourage Hispanic residents to wash their hands and to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze to prevent the spread of the flu.

Outcomes that resulted from actions taken:

Silcox said the campaign has been in the works for a while. Even though the number of people becoming sick with the flu has decreased in recent weeks, the regular flu season is just starting and the advice is good for either seasonal flu or the H1N1 flu, he said.

Reference: The Journal Gazette (IN) HEADLINE: Flu Campaign Targets Hispanics BYLINE: Amanda Iacone URL:

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