The bad flu season of 2017-2018 and flu spread might be a wake up call to local governments surprised by how hard hit some towns, cities or counties are to start or jump-start a flu shot campaign. By the time the first week ended in 2018, the flu was already in full swing. Here is a screenshot of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) map showing widespread flu:
According to The National Governor’s Association’s Primer for a Pandemic Influenza, available in the NGA Center for Best Practices, “Both before and during a pandemic, state and local officials
should assume responsibility for extensive interaction with the public.”
While the current flu season might not reach pandemic status, (it’s being called “unusually severe“), getting more of the public to get a flu shot could reduce impacts and death caused by flu pandemics, so it makes sense for local governments to become better flu fighters — inside as well as outside of municipal government. As reported in Newsweek, CDC advises that as long as the flu virus is circulating, “it’s never too late to get vaccinated.” Here’s five ways that can help curtail flu spread now, or before the next flu season.
#1 Roll Up Sleeves at City Hall to Launch a Flu Shot Campaign
In October 2017, the city of San Antonio held a pop-up flu clinic for employees and city leaders to get their flu shots. We can’t find a picture of San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg getting his flu shot, but here is Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2013 as part of his publicized annual flu shot campaign.
Flu fighting by example is not a new idea — Getty Images is featuring Boston Mayor Andrew James Peters getting his flu shot in 1900 — it’s a time-tested one.
#2 Look Like Flu Fighters & Don Masks
The city of Minneapolis is not pulling any punches this for the 2017-2018 flu season. As part of its flu outbreak preparations, the city posted on its website some things to know about visiting a city office during flu season. Chief among them, if a visitor is coughing or sneezing, they’ll be offered a surgical mask. And if its declined, the city asks the employee wear one while assisting the visitor.
Municipal staff will also:
- Wash their hands frequently with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Wipe down shared work surfaces.
- Cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when they cough or sneeze. Or, cough into your sleeve.
- Place tissues or hand sanitizing solution on reception counters for visitors to use.
- Avoid close contact with sick people, when feasible.
For public safety vehicles, EMS1.com recommends disinfecting any surfaces citizens may have come into contact with to help reduce first responder exposure, including overlooked surfaces like equipment rails, buckles and receivers on squad bench seat belts, radio controls, microphones, vehicle steering wheels, mobile devices, etc.
#3 Add a Mobile Flu Clinic to a Flu Shot Campaign
Texas A&M University held a mobile flu clinic in 2016 for employees and their families, according to The Eagle. For the 2017-2018 flu season, a nearby clinic hosted its first drive-through flu clinic. Adults and children could receive flu vaccinations without having to leave their vehicles.
#4 Set up a Town-Wide Flu Shot Jam
The town of Bedford, Massachusetts held a town-wide flu clinic for anyone over six months old in October 2017 in the cafeteria of John Glenn Middle School, according to the Bedford Citizen.
The town of more than 14,000 people, according to Neighborhood Scout, said it was expecting at least 2,800 cases of the 2017-2018 flu.
#5 Share Flu Shot Access on Social Channels
HealthMap Vaccine Finder, originally created by Google in 2012, is a free, online service where users search by zip code to that offer flu shots. Everybody is not doing it, and it sounds like they should:
— Vaccine Finder (@VaccineFinder) May 15, 2013
The experts advise the flu shot as the best defense against flu spread.
Cities and public health departments can also share resources like the National Council for Aging’s Guide the Seasonal Flu for Seniors, which reviews causes, complications and more and also provides information on where to get testing and vaccination.