25453 Help Wanted: How to Create a Help Desk to Answer Questions and Address Issues During An In School Vaccination (ISV) Program

Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Columbia Hall
Danielle Deery, JD, MURP , Public Health Preparedness Planner, Philadelphia Department of Public Health

Background: To deliver H1N1 vaccine to as many school age children as possible, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) coordinated with most schools to offer vaccination on a scheduled day.  A Help Desk was created to support personnel at schools that were dispensing H1N1 vaccine by promptly and appropriately answering medical questions and addressing logistical problems. 

Setting: Schools that dispensed H1N1 vaccine to students, including the School District of Philadelphia and Charter, Private and Catholic Schools

Population: School age children

Project Description: The Help Desk consisted of two dedicated internet phone lines on laptops upon a wheeled cart allowing it to be easily moved between employee work spaces and secured overnight.  The use of dedicated lines allowed the phone numbers to be distributed throughout the planning process and allowed more employees to be involved by not committing a particular employee to supporting the Help Desk.  A reference manual was created for the Help Desk with the VISs, letters to parents and permission forms to assist those answering the phone lines.   The Help Desk phone lines were answered by PDPH employees during the hours of operation of ISV clinics.  Any medical questions, including allergies, contraindications to receive vaccine or reporting reactions to vaccine, were forwarded to a physician or the Immunizations program.  All calls were entered into a log which was used for discussion with school personnel on a daily call, including such issues as the vaccination of children without parental consent and reactions to vaccine. Almost 400 calls were logged during the seven week ISV program.

Results/Lessons Learned: The Help Desk was an efficient way to manage issues and questions from the ISV clinics.  The log clearly tracked progress and issues throughout the vaccination process. The design of the Help Desk allowed various employees to support the ISV program.