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Story from the Field

Name of Health Department/Agency: Wilkes-Barre City Health Department
State: PA
Date Added: 05/21/2010
Themes: Vaccine Supply and Distribution
Issue Summary: Municipal health department distributing high demand H1N1 vaccine to residents outside of jurisdiction.
Description of Issue(s):

The Wilkes-Barre City Health Department is typically responsible for its residents (41,000 +).  We are the only municipal health department in the northeast section of the state. Novel A H1N1 erupted in the spring of 2009 and our Health Department (HD) along with key stakeholders began weekly planning and strategy developement for the fall of 2009.  We received 1000 doses of multi-dose H1N1 vaccine and immediately set immunization clinics at our building, Kirby Health Center.  No other clinics were planned in our area and very few providers, hospitals and health care entities have received vaccine supplies.  We were overwhelmed with limited staff (nursing and ancillary) and were challenged with non-residents arriving for vaccine within the high risk groups.  Non-high risk group individuals began to call and arrive at our clinics which presented additional challenges especially the over 65 year old groups (non-high risk as per CDC guidelines).

Actions taken to address the issue(s): The nursing personnel (three) distributed over 700 doses of vaccine over a 10 hour clinic. The administration and HD staff collaborated and decided not to turn away non-residents appropriate for first round vaccination (federal program and declaration of a potential health crisis). The vaccine supplies were arriving sporatically with short notice on delivery dates and our clinics were already publicized. The Wilkes-Barre City Health Department had to borrow vaccine from other state and municipal HD's to meet the demand at our initial clinics.
Outcomes that resulted from actions taken: We scheduled 2 to 3 clinics within the first 2 weeks and needed to incorporate state nurses for support, volunteers and eventually utilize PA paramedics to distribute the vaccine. We were immunizing appropriate high risk individuals from all over state and bordering states (New York and New Jersey). The clinics were very busy because the media and "word of mouth" dissemination of our distribution schedules.

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