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Pandemic-flu public awareness campaign--Cerro Gordo Department of Public Health, Mason City, Iowa.

It is difficult to predict when the next influenza pandemic will occur or how severe it will be. National experts, however, say it will happen. It's just a matter of when and how severe it will be.

Officials at the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health (in Mason City, Iowa) are taking steps to prepare their community. A specific pandemic-influenza plan has been created for the many partners who will be working with the health department. In addition, a public-awareness campaign has been developed.

The campaign has the following key components:

* Campaign kick-off -- A press conference was held September 1, 2006, at the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health to kick off the campaign. The campaign details were outlined at that time, along with an explanation of why the campaign is important to the community. Grocery store partners were invited to be part of the kick-off.

* Grocery store flyers -- The health department formed a partnership with seven grocery stores in the county. The grocery store managers or owners have agreed to help distribute educational flyers about pandemic flu; the health department has prepared four two-sided flyers. A new flyer with pandemic-flu information will be handed to grocery store customers each week for four weeks as they get their receipt at the cash register. Each week's flyer will be printed on differently colored paper to signal the presentation of new material. The flyers will contain information on the difference between seasonal flu and pandemic flu, address the importance of planning, answer frequently asked questions, and provide emergency health information and contact sheets for families, resource listings, and a pandemic-flu supply checklist.

* Radio message -- A summarized pandemic-flu message will be aired on two North Iowa radio stations.

* Newspaper message -- The same pandemic-flu message will be used in newspaper advertisements in the Clear Lake Mirror Reporter.

* Internet -- The Web site of the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health,, will continue to be updated with pandemic-flu information and details about the campaign.

* Display -- A traveling display will be created and taken to various places in the county. This community outreach effort will include a presence at all county public libraries, and registration or "back-to-school" events at county schools, businesses, community events, senior centers, local cafes, and so forth.

* Protect Iowa Health -- The Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health will also distribute the Iowa Department of Public Health's preparedness booklet Protect Iowa Health at all possible venues during the campaign.

* Student nurses -- The health department will be working closely with the nursing program at North Iowa Area Community College to educate student nurses and ask them to help distribute information to the students and staff on campus.

* Newspaper stuffer -- If funding is available, the health department will create one flyer--basically a summary of the four grocery store flyers--and have it distributed in the Globe Gazette. This flyer is expected to reach 11,000 Cerro Gordo County residents.

Every person in the community will be responsible, to some extent, for his or her own health. The Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health will provide recommendations and guidelines in the case of an outbreak. Our expectation of the public is that everyone take these guidelines seriously and that recommendations be followed.

The approach of the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health to planning for pandemic influenza is to prepare for the worst but hope for the best. The community does not have the luxury of being unprepared. If a pandemic strikes, it will affect the country as a whole. The health department plan is based on the assumption that the needs of the community will be handled at the local level. The department is not expecting assistance from the state or federal government.
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Title Annotation:EH Update
Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Oct 1, 2006
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