Congress recently authorized the Department of Health and Human Services to release $350 million in preparedness grants to help public health officials and healthcare systems with their H1N1 flu preparedness efforts. To help plan for a 2009 H1N1 flu vaccination program, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued general guidance to help state and local governments, assuming that a safe and effective vaccine is available.
The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will provide specific vaccination recommendations that will target specific populations and priority for limited or phased vaccine supply.
Based on the populations most affected by H1N1, targets for the initial vaccination include: students and staff at schools and child care centers; pregnant women; children between six months and four years old; new parents and household contacts of children less than six months old; adults under the age of 65 with medical conditions that increase the risk of flu complications; and healthcare workers and emergency services sector personnel.
Elizabeth DiGiacomo-Geffers, RN, MPH, CSHA, from Di Giacomo-Geffers and Associates, praises the HHS for its handling the H1N1 epidemic.
"If one looks at Joint Commission standards they have been advocating for year-round assessment of organization influenza vaccination program," says DiGiacomo-Geffers. "There is some seasonal variation in the fall and winter months. However, to assess compliance as to education, sites, rates, one has to assess and evaluate on an ongoing basis."