For Immediate Release - September 30, 2009

GOVERNOR PATRICK ANNOUNCES FIRST SHIPMENT OF H1N1 VACCINE WILL ARRIVE NEXT WEEK

Governor, public health officials take part in administration's statewide flu summit

WORCESTER - September 30, 2009 - Governor Deval Patrick today announced that the state has placed its first order for H1N1 vaccine with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Due to their vital public health role, the initial small shipment, set to arrive next week, will be used for health care workers only. Additional vaccine shipments will arrive weekly through the end of the flu season and, in about six to eight weeks, the Commonwealth will have enough vaccine in the state to make available to the general public.

The Governor made the announcement and encouraged people to get vaccinated during the Massachusetts Statewide Conference on H1N1 Influenza Response at the DCU Center in Worcester. As part of its far-reaching preparedness efforts, the administration convened key public health and public safety, business, school and community leaders to assess the first month of the resurgence of H1N1 flu, and to discuss planning for the remainder of flu season.

"Since the first outbreak of H1N1 this spring, we have worked overtime to prepare and provide the public with the information they need to stay healthy," said Governor Patrick. "Today's conference, along with news that the first shipment of the vaccine will arrive next week, are part of a broader action plan designed to give people the resources they need to reduce the spread and the severity of the illness this flu season."

Today, public health officials continued to encourage those at greatest risk for H1N1 - children age 6 months to 24 years, individuals who care for children under the age of 6 months, pregnant women and people with chronic underlying health conditions, such as asthma or diabetes - to get vaccinated first.

"This fall is the first time in memory that people will be at risk of two different strains of flu in the same flu season," said Department of Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach. "Events like today's summit provide a valuable opportunity for us to increase awareness across the state on how to avoid getting or spreading both seasonal and H1N1 flu."

The day-long summit attracted over 700 participants from a wide range of organizations, including hospitals, community health centers, local public health and public safety agencies, primary and secondary educational institutions and other state and local partners.

Attendees received flu situation updates and information on guidance and planning for flu vaccination. A variety of breakout sessions focused on immunization, clinical management, surge capacity, challenges in school and university settings and communication and education.

The Patrick-Murray administration has implemented a comprehensive action plan to prepare for flu season this year. Following the first outbreak of H1N1 this spring, the Governor recognized the importance of cross-government collaboration and communication and created an advisory group consisting of key stakeholders, including local health officials, health care clinics, private medical practices, school officials, and state and federal agencies. The advisory group is responsible for planning and deployment to assist during any pandemic response.

Additionally, the administration launched a multi-lingual public service awareness campaign designed to educate people across the state about ways they can protect themselves. Even with a robust vaccination program, basic preventive hygiene practices remain the best way to stop the spread of flu. Today, the Governor encouraged people to take commonsense steps, such as washing your hands, coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your inner elbow, and staying home from school or work if your are sick. For more information, please visit www.mass.gov/dph.

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