H1N1 vaccine demand clogs hotline

By: November 4th, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

Healthcare facilities around the country are feeling the effects of a decreased supply of H1N1 vaccines. Here in Nebraska an Iowa public health clinics are dealing with long lines of frightened people looking for protection this winter.

In the months before flu season began, many experts suggested setting up influenza hotlines, to mitigate the surge of patients, particularly in smaller facilities where isolation precautions are harder to adhere to.

However it seems even phone lines are clogging up with people looking for vaccines. Last week the Park Nicollett Clinic in Minneapolis was forced to shut down their flu shot hotline after it was bombarded with 120,000 calls in four hours, according to the Star Tribune. The clinic announced the arrival of 17,000 doses on its Web site and phone lines. That coupled with news stories that announced the clinic would be taking appointments for the vaccine,  eventually jammed the system with callers.

Every state is struggling to distribute vaccines to appropriate groups. The CDC has emphasized a prioritized list of groups, but public concern has created additional stress on flu clinics who receive the vaccine, to the point where some are afraid to publicize the fact that they have a vaccine.

Minnesota state officials have not announced facilities that receive the vaccine and are allowing those facilities to contact their own patients that are at high risk.

It’s important to establish a plan regarding how your facility expects to effectively distribute vaccines. Document that policy and make it clear to staff members what patients should have priority according to CDC guidelines.

For a sample H1N1 vaccine distribution plan, visit the Tools page.


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