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'Flu Fighters' to hit streets in NYC

October 14, 2009 12:09:32 PM PDT
Some 800 volunteers will help New York City health authorities spread the word about getting vaccinated for both swine flu and seasonal flu. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the "Flu Fighters" program on Wednesday.

The program will mobilize hundreds of volunteers to conduct outreach at community events, schools, senior centers and houses of worship in New York City to raise awareness about influenza and the importance of getting vaccinated.

Flu Fighters is one of the 40 initiatives of NYC Service announced by Mayor Bloomberg in April and is a component of the City's comprehensive influenza prevention plan outlined by the Mayor in early September.

"Our biggest goal for NYC Service is to strategically and methodically direct volunteers to the areas of our city where they are needed the most - something that had never really been done before," said Mayor Bloomberg.

The Flu Fighter program aims to engage 800 or more volunteers in the program. Volunteers can start work on some opportunities right away. New Yorkers interested in helping prevent the spread of influenza this season by becoming a Flu Fighter should call 311 or visit volunteer.nycservice.org.

The volunteer Flu Fighters will work in four areas:

  • Community Outreach: Volunteers will be provided with posters and brochures on how to prevent the spread of influenza and the importance of vaccination, which they will distribute at places of work, places of worship, senior centers, pharmacies, local stores, and other community hubs.

  • Vaccination Pledge: Volunteers will pledge to take individuals they know to get vaccinated. Volunteers will receive information about high-risk groups and will be encouraged to bring friends or family members who wish to protect themselves and others from influenza and its complications.

  • VaccinationCenterAssistance: Volunteers will help distribute screening forms or manage the flow of people in and out of one of the weekend vaccination centers (also known as Points of Dispensing) that will take place across the city. Multi-lingual volunteers can assist those with limited English proficiency.

  • Parent Outreach: Volunteers will promote flu awareness at school events and ensure other parents are aware of the due date for consent forms for school-based vaccination.

    In addition to the Flu Fighter volunteer effort, the City has developed a protocol for selecting, deploying and tracking volunteers with professional medical experience through its Medical Reserve Corps, a volunteer network that includes 8,700 physicians, pharmacists, dentists, nurses, nurse practitioners, mental health providers and other credentialed health professionals. These health professionals will volunteer in hospitals, clinics and dispensing centers to expand treatment capacity. The City's public and private hospitals are finalizing protocols for accepting the volunteers to work in their facilities.

    Each year, more than 1,000 New Yorkers die from influenza and its complications, and many others become ill.

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