Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mass Vaccination Hubs Are Part of D.C. Swine Flu Plan:


By Michael Laris
Washington Post staff writer
Saturday, September 5, 2009

District officials said Friday that they are working to set up mass vaccination centers, potentially at city recreation centers, as part of a broad push to minimize the number of people sickened by swine flu this fall and beyond.

A network of doctor offices, schools, clinics and hospitals is also being put together for the vaccinations. The city will update its flu Web site with case counts and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it is preparing radio and TV spots.

"We're a lot further than we were just a few short weeks ago. And we're monitoring what other states are doing to make sure we're not missing anything," D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said, adding that city preparations are "on par" with what he has seen elsewhere.

Fenty (D) appealed to business owners to be far-sighted about encouraging employees to stay home if they are sick, even if that means taking a financial hit. "Being very proactive at the beginning will save businesses a lot of money," he said.

Spotlighting some of the high-risk groups that will get priority when the vaccine is released -- it is expected in October -- Fenty and other officials outlined the city's plans outside Mary's Center, a maternal and child health clinic in Adams Morgan. Clinic doctors in the District and in Silver Spring provide 19,500 immunizations a year.

"This may be nothing, and yet it may be big," said Mark R. Fracasso, the center's vice president of medicine.

Fracasso met this week to discuss strategy with D.C. health officials and doctors from clinics across the city. As cases of swine flu prompt more residents to seek care or vaccinations, officials and physicians don't want hospitals to be inundated. "We're going to be the first line," Fracasso said.

Pierre Vigilance, director of the D.C. Department of Health, said officials want residents' own doctors to handle the bulk of the vaccinations if possible. Higher-risk groups will get the initial shots or nose sprays, with the general population to follow.

But for the significant numbers of people who don't have access to medical care, large-scale vaccination sites will be in place. Schools will be used, and Vigilance said recreation centers are being considered.

"They are relatively large, they have been strategically located around the city, they have gymnasiums" big enough to handle crowds, Vigilance said, "so you could get a lot of people taken care of."

No comments:

Post a Comment