With H1N1 swine flu still pandemic, Plainfielders are waiting to hear about further vaccine clinics sponsored by the City.
After only 500 inoculations out of 2,000 available were distributed at its November 21 clinic at Muhlenberg's Snyder School of Nursing (see story here), the city said --
... [it] plans to hold at least two more clinics, with dates and times being announced in the near future. Colicchio said a school-based event is being discussed as well.Four issues have emerged in the Robinson-Briggs administration's handling of Plainfield's response to the H1N1 pandemic --
- When will the rest of the vaccines be distributed?
- Why was turnout so low?
- Why isn't the Health Center being used?
- Why isn't Plainfield listed on the the Union County website?
What is the holdup in announcing further vaccination clinics? It is now TWO WEEKS TO THE DAY since Plainfield's initial clinic. That is A LONG TIME in terms of a flu season, not 'the near future'.ADDRESSING TURNOUT
The turnout for Plainfield's initial clinic was UNACCEPTABLY LOW, with excuses offered by Health Officer Colicchio and Mayor Robinson-Briggs. That Plainfield could have done much better is shown by the fact that Cranford, a much smaller municipality (23,000 vs. 50,000 for Plainfield), successfully distributed nearly 2,000 swine flu shots at its clinic held on the same day as Plainfield's (see story here).USING PLAINFIELD HEALTH CENTER
Many Plainfielders familiar with healthcare services delivery in Plainfield were puzzled by the City's selection of Muhlenberg as the site for the clinic. Not only Muhlenberg, but the Snyder School of Nursing -- for which the City gave the address as 'Park Avenue and Randolph Road', which is not correct; the Nursing School is on the corner of Park and Moffatt Avenues.PUBLICIZING CLINICS
Why wasn't the LOGICAL CHOICE -- The Plainfield Health Center -- used? In the first place, it is supposed to be the main place Plainfielders turn to now that Solaris has closed Muhlenberg. Secondly, the target at-risk populations are already heavy users of the Health Center. Was this the Mayor's call? Or Colicchio's? Are either really aware of patterns of healtchcare services delivery in Plainfield? No offense to Muhlenberg, but that strikes me as a dumb call.
Union County has posted H1N1 swine flu clinics throughout the County on its website (see here). Can you guess which municipality is MISSING FROM THE LIST? Maybe you'd have better luck on the City's website (see here). Nope. In fact, it seems to me there is LESS INFORMATION than the week of the original clinic, when a notice was posted the Thursday before the Saturday event. That notice is since gone, replaced by a link to a generic handout.With 1,500 doses yet unused in Plainfield there is yet one more consideration you would hope our public health officials would address -- providing vaccines to those (admittedly few) persons who do not fit within the broad guidelines as to who is at-risk, but who have already compromising underlying health conditions that would make an H1N1 infection dangerous if not fatal. A sensible public health policy would provide a mechanism for these few people to also receive the vaccine, rather than let it sit in some refrigerator somewhere.
It seems to me the low turnout at Plainfield's first clinic is directly attributable to POOR PUBLICITY AND PROMOTION --
- LATE NOTICE (two days in advance);
- POOR DISTRIBUTION of information;
- RELIANCE ON WRONG OUTLETS -- using Plainfield's cable station only (who watches it?), instead of popular media such as Harvest Radio and Zarephath; and the City's website, which gets only an average of about 2,500 hits PER MONTH.
The H1N1 swine flu pandemic is a life-threatening public health emergency for at-risk populations. Responsible, ethical leadership by Mayor Robinson-Briggs and Plainfield's health officer in the face of this need deserve better than the swinish treatment so far offered.
- Courier, 11/21/09: "Plainfield rolls out H1N1 vaccines"
- Ledger, 11/27/09: "Nearly 2,000 get swine flu shots from Cranford"
- Union County Website: "Swine Flu Clinic Schedule"
- Plainfield Website: "Announcements"
-- Dan Damon [follow]