Background: MDCH uses a multi-pronged approach to seasonal influenza education, outreach, and preparedness. Existing materials and initiatives related to seasonal influenza were adapted and used in conjunction with 2009 H1N1 Influenza communication strategies. Since Michigan’s flu website was created in 2002 it has provided a plethora of information on seasonal flu to the general public and health care providers; the website was utilized throughout the 2009 Influenza Pandemic. MDCH staff has an internal Flu Education Workgroup (FEW) and leads an external group, the Flu Advisory Board (FAB), which was formed in 2005.
Setting: Activities and outreach conducted by the state health department in Lansing, Michigan
Population: General public, pharmacies, retail stores, community vaccinators, immunization coalition partners, professional associations, state and local health departments, VFC providers, private providers, college health centers, nursing associations, health systems, health plans, and other health professionals.
Project Description: The presentation will go into detail on how MDCH’s existing partnerships and materials were used to communicate both seasonal and 2009 H1N1 influenza messages throughout the rapidly evolving 2009 H1N1 Influenza Pandemic. Influenza communication strategies will be discussed including: Michigan’s flu website, FAB’s mission and activities, Immunization Nurse Education (INE) flu modules, Physician Peer Education Project on Immunizations (PPEPI) presentations, regular conference calls with key partners, email updates, the role of the FEW in adapting and creating materials, utilizing and strengthening existing partnerships, creating consistent messages, weekly communication via MDCH’s newsletter FluBytes, and timely dissemination of pertinent information.
Results/Lessons Learned: Many strengths and weaknesses of current influenza communication strategies were identified. Existing partnerships were strengthened and new partnerships were developed. Utilizing input from the FAB and other outside partners was critical to the development and adaptation of materials. Communication efforts and strategies throughout the 2009 Influenza Pandemic have future implications on Michigan’s influenza education and outreach.