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Story from the Field

Name of Health Department/Agency: St. Lucie County Health Department
State: FL
Date Added: 11/23/2009
Themes: Communications - General H1N1,Communications - Priority Groups
Issue Summary: St. Lucie County H1N1 Communication Strategy
Description of Issue(s):

Early in the vaccination campaign, it was identified that we would have a limited number of vaccine to administer to the entire county and specifically 113,000 high priority residents. Communication was identified as the most significant challenge we would face in administering vaccine to those at greatest risk of severe complications, hospitalization and death. Another significant ongoing issue is explaining to the public which groups are most in need of H1N1 vaccine vs. seasonal influenza vaccine. With H1N1 widely circulating in children, it was imperative to vaccinate this population in order to dramatically reduce the circulation of H1N1 in our county of 280,000 people. While waiting for vaccine shipments to arrive, we aggressively communicated non-pharmaceutical prevention measures to the public.

Actions taken to address the issue(s): St. Lucie County Health Department contracted with a local advertising and marketing agency to develop a media campaign that would deliver our message to the public. The intended audience includes: parents of school children, clinicians, media, stakeholders, staff, and the public at large. After developing a strategy, we vigorously implemented the plan by branding our messages and aggressively marketing them using area media and other community groups to facilitate wide-spread risk communication.
Outcomes that resulted from actions taken: St. Lucie County Health Department registered 75 community partners to participate in administering H1N1 vaccine to the CDC priority groups. The health department conducted three county-wide free vaccination clinics administering vaccine to approximately 5000 high risk residents while only turning away a few that did not meet the CDC priority group criteria. The health department develops weekly situation reports that are widely distributed to the media, political leaders, stakeholders, staff and Department of Health leadership throughout the state.

It is my hope as health department administrator that we incorporate this communication technique in our Project Public Health Ready resubmission next year. We also plan to use this branding technique for future St. Lucie County public health initiatives.

The attached St. Lucie County Success Story demonstrates the extent to which the health department utilized branding and marketing techniques to disseminate our message throughout St. Lucie County as well as to a media market of over 2 million people.

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