A partnership between Saint Louis University School of Public Health and the St. Louis County Department of Health to fight the flu has won a prestigious award from two regional public health groups.
The Missouri-Illinois Public Health Officials and the local chapter of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Immunology (APIC) recognized the "No Flu for You" campaign and research project with its 2011 "Partnership Award for Outstanding and Dedicated Service in Preventing Disease."
Each year, one Missouri or Illinois collaboration receives this award, which historically is given to hospitals or infection prevention professionals who have shown exemplary collaboration with a health department.
"St. Louis County and the nation have identified influenza education as a critical area. Typically a low percentage health professionals and workers don't receive the influenza vaccine if they aren't mandated to do so," said Kate Wright, Ed.D., MPH, director of the Heartland Center for Public Health Preparedness at Saint Louis University School of Public and associate professor of health management and policy.
"Ultimately the goal of the regional campaign is to increase compliance and prevent the spread of influenza and assure that the workforce will be protected and able to work during times of pandemic and seasonal flu."
The School of Public Health and St. Louis County collaborated on research that examined whether health care workers received the H1N1 influenza vaccine and the seasonal flu vaccine. Then they designed a web-based campaign and associated products to inform an array of constituents - national and local policy leaders; employees of professional organizations; health care workers; and government officials - on why employees should get vaccinated against influenza. They also included a framework to development policy-based vaccinated campaigns.
The website provides one place for all flu information and includes a searchable database on where flu vaccines are available; recent news stories about flu; samples of effective vaccination campaigns; a compilation of laws and policies on flu vaccination; best practice models research on the cost and benefit of vaccinating the health care workforce.
"We've designed the website to appeal to thought leaders who need to make informed decisions about protecting people from influenza," said Wright. "Our goal is to reduce misinformation and eliminate barriers that stand in the way of protecting health care workers from getting flu vaccines, which ultimately will stop the spread of disease. We are providing those who lead health care workers with the best possible resources so they can create sound employee immunization programs based on real information."
Wright and Terri Rebmann, PhD., associate professor and infectious disease specialist at SLU's Institute for Biosecurity and Disaster Preparedness, were co-principal investigators on the project. Mike Thomas, MPH, associate director of the Heartland Center at SLU, served as project coordinator for the project in collaboration with partners from the St. Louis County Department of Health.
See the campaign at http://nofluforyou.com.