Mayor Menino Convenes First-Ever Boston Flu Preparedness Summit
City Presents Comprehensive Plan to Fight Flu
Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Boston officials today unveiled a blueprint for containing the spread of influenza, identifying key steps that businesses, residential care facilities, schools, and other sectors should take in the event of mild, moderate, or severe levels of flu and flu-like illness in the city this fall and winter.
The plan was developed over the summer by Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) officials in partnerships with leaders from business, unions, education, community-based organizations and other sectors, at the urging of Mayor Menino. It was discussed at the first-ever Boston Influenza Preparedness Summit held at the Harvard University School of Medicine, where Mayor Menino was joined by about 400 public and private sector representatives, whose cooperation he asked for as the city ramps up its flu prevention efforts.
“For several years, Boston has been planning for all kinds of unexpected and large scale events,” Mayor Menino said. “But government can’t prepare alone. This fall, we will be looking to all of you to be a part of this expanded team of professionals working to contain the spread of illness in our communities.”
The blueprint is an integrated influenza plan that identifies key action items to be taken by community partners at various levels of flu outbreak. Those actions range from promoting flu prevention messages to cancelling non-essential large scale social events to activating special flu units at health care facilities to asking employers to allow flex-time and telecommuting for employees.
“It is absolutely essential that the city be prepared for the best case scenario and the worse case,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “And it’s critically important that we form partnerships with every business and every institution in this city to keep residents healthy.”
Beginning in early September, city public health officials will begin vaccinating Boston residents against seasonal flu by offering additional flu clinics throughout neighborhoods, at union halls, churches and temples, community health centers, elderly housing developments, and other public buildings. Mayor Menino announced this week that he will allow City of Boston employees two hours of paid leave to obtain a flu vaccination for themselves and their child and has asked other businesses to follow suit.
In mid-September, BPHC will start offering one to two public clinics every week. The agency will also start training and mobilizing Medical Reserve Corps volunteers, EMS paramedics, BPHC nurses, and partnering with health professional schools to provide vaccination training to nursing and medical school students.
BPHC will be receiving an additional 50,000 doses of seasonal flu from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to allow for expanded clinics for seasonal flu vaccination. Once the H1N1 vaccines arrive, BPHC will work with community health centers and hospitals to vaccinate targeted populations, using a patient tracking system to ensure that residents are reminded to return for their second dose. BPHC will be developing, with Boston Public Schools, a plan for mass vaccination of school-age children should this become necessary.
BPHC will also launch a public awareness campaign on flu prevention, which will include promoting washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes, staying home when ill and getting vaccinated. The campaign will encompass informational posters and palm cards, billboards, MBTA bus advertising, videos, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, which the agency used to “tweet” highlights from today’s summit.
- BPHC -