Vol. 12 No. 8 - March, 2010

Community Immunity

 The impressive 59 percent H1N1 vaccination rate in the city of Worcester demonstrates that long-standing partnerships improve public health. The Graduate School of Nursing, Worcester District Medical Society Public Health subcommittee, Worcester Division of Public Health (DPH) and the Region 2 Health Care Preparedness Coordinator have worked in partnership for four years to develop the systems and processes to immunize residents of Worcester each fall against seasonal influenza, a project also known as Community Immunity. The work to coordinate and implement Community Immunity that has taken place over the past three years allowed this team to seamlessly expand to address the arrival of H1N1.

Students and faculty from the GSN

and the School of Medicine participated in Community Immunity, which administers approximately 1,000 flu vaccines to area residents each year.

Planning meetings to address H1N1 started in early August 2009. Weekly meetings allowed for updates and coordination of an earlier-than-usual Community Immunity seasonal flu clinic and subsequent H1N1 flu clinics. As in years past, students and faculty from both the GSN and the School of Medicine participated in Community Immunity, which administers approximately 1,000 flu vaccines to area residents each year. Community Immunity also serves as an annual test of the disaster preparedness plan for Worcester.

Limited nursing resources within the Worcester DPH created an opportunity for GSN students to participate in H1N1 flu clinics throughout Worcester. Pre-licensure students from the Graduate Entry Pathway (GEP), supervised by GSN assistant professors Abraham Ndiwane, MSN, EdD, Robin Klar, MSN, DNSc, and Eileen Terrill, MS, PhD, assisted with immunizing Worcester police and firefighters against seasonal flu (113 and 109 respectively) and H1N1 flu (113 and 137 respectively). Through this experience, students had an opportunity to observe the process behind mass immunizations, participate in health teaching and documentation, and practice their injection techniques. GEP student participation in these clinics also elevated their appreciation for public health outreach.

GSN students also assisted in vaccinating more than 14,000 Worcester public school children against H1N1.

Future partnerships will continue to advance public health in Worcester residents and beyond. These service-learning experiences also provide real-life situations for nursing and medical students, which enhance their understanding of the relationship between personal and public health.