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Story from the Field

Name of Health Department/Agency: Collier County Health Department
State: FL
Date Added: 12/28/2009
Themes: Communications - General H1N1
Issue Summary: Communications - General H1N1
Description of Issue(s):

The challenge of communicating timely, accurate H1N1 information to the community including where people can access vaccine, countering misinformation, and keeping the population interested when a campaign lingers is daunting.

Actions taken to address the issue(s): The Collier County Health Department (CCHD) Joint Information Center (JIC) created a comprehensive communications network of community partners including: media outlets, community disaster response partners(Emergency Management, hospitals & community clinics, schools, law enforcement, EMS, Red Cross, etc.), businesses including faith based organizations, and RED (Residential Enclave Disaster)Plan communities (which account for 30% of our population). Regular updates, including clinic scheduless, have been sent to these partners since the emergence of the pandemic H1N1 in April 2009. The updates are also placed on our website, for the general population (residents and visitors) to see. This communications approach allows us to quickly educate a network of additional "ambassadors" of our public health messages as these individuals reach out to their family, friends, customers, etc. with our accurate information. In addition, the communication is two-way as the network partners report back misinformation or community concerns via our website, or JIC email and phone lines.
Outcomes that resulted from actions taken: This comprehensive approach to communications has assisted the CCHD JIC significantly in relaying H1N1 information including clinic schedules out to our residents and visitors. It allows us to keep our community informed with accurate and timely information in an effort to keep the community interested and hence, increase their likelihood of getting vaccinated. As of 12/24/09, over H1N1 115,000 vaccines were administered in Collier County, equating to approximately one third of our population. The approach also raises awareness about our website. We are seeing an average of 12,000 hits to our sites per month which is up significantly from before use of this comprehensive communication approach. Overall, our residents and visitors are considerably better informed due to this approach to communications.

See attached graphic of Collier County Health Department JIC.

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