As the novel H1N1 "swine flu" virus continues to make headlines across the country, the Douglas County Emergency Management Office, in cooperation with the Douglas County Health Nurse, Carson City Health & Human Services Office, Douglas County School District, public health professionals, Washoe Tribe, American Red Cross, the State of Nevada, and several other public service agencies, are working to inform the public about the virus; and plan for inoculation and/or community needs should there be a significant outbreak.
Developing disaster preparedness plans and practicing them on a regular basis, as we do, helps us to better respond during a disaster. A coalition of leaders, representing numerous public service agencies, has been meeting over several months with officials from public health agencies and the medical community to prepare for what Douglas County may need for any inoculation or local pandemic response.
East Fork Fire & Paramedic Districts Deputy Fire Chief of Operations, Steve Tognoli, has coordinated several meetings between these public service organizations, in order to build a plan for all of Douglas County and the surrounding communities.
The efforts under way are being organized under the National Incident Command System (known as NIMS).
The key to the successful management of this public health issue is cooperation and coordination between all those entities with responsibilities for public health.
While it is serious and we do have the potential for seeing increased flu sickness in the community, remember that it is, in fact, a strain of flu, and we will get through this. We all have to plan and work together.
We have been working hard to put an incident management team in place, and have received outstanding support from agencies within and outside of Douglas County.
Though the H1N1 flu variant has not proven to be more deadly than the regular seasonal flu, it has shown to be more prevalent in younger people, with the largest affected age group being those 5 to 24 years old.
This will be one of our more significant challenges. This is one of the first times that age demographics will be used to determine priority inoculations.
A second challenge is that both the seasonal flu inoculation and a separate H1N1 flu inoculation may be offered within the same two- to three-month period, which could certainly create some confusion for recipients. We are dependent upon the CDC and other federal agencies and their decision when to release and distribute the vaccine.
A big part of our planning and certainly one of our primary commitments is to inform the public and provide educational information which allows for informed decision-making on the part of parents, children, teens, young adults, and our elderly citizens.
For questions please contact Douglas County Emergency Management at 782-9040.