CRIHB to create an H1N1 vaccine awareness campaign

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Continuing its mission to improve the health of American Indian and Alaska Natives of California, the California Rural Indian Health Board, Inc. will create a comprehensive and culturally adapted campaign to increase awareness of the availability of the H1N1 influenza vaccine to AI/AN across the state.

This project will be funded through a $300,000 grant provided by the California Department of Public Health and will be carried out by the CRIHB Family and Community Health Services Department and the California Tribal Epidemiology Center. As a tribal organization, CRIHB played an important role in advocating on behalf of tribes and Tribal Health Programs for public health emergency funds which were awarded to California by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Involving tribal organizations in the implementation of public health planning reflects a renewed commitment to tribal health concerns by the new federal administration and the CDC Office of State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support.

At the one year anniversary of the 2009 Influenza A (H1N1) pandemic, public health experts have remained concerned over the continued spread and impact of the virus. While these experts call for sustained preventive efforts through increasing vaccination coverage in the general population, they also realize that hard to reach groups, such as AI/AN, may not be as effectively reached through current strategies. There is also particular concern for AI/AN because their rates of influenza hospitalizations and deaths in the past have been higher than in other races. To address these concerns, CRIHB has begun work on a culturally competent vaccine awareness program to augment the state-wide response.

The awareness campaign will consist of posters, brochures, factsheets, toolkits and television and radio public service announcements. Products are crafted using traditional California Native imagery and concepts designed to interest the AI/AN population. Materials will be available for distribution in June.

While Tribal Health Programs which are owned and operated by tribes in California will be the primary sites of distribution, health care sites outside this network will also be invited to disseminate these materials. For more information, contact Virginia Myers of the California Tribal Epidemiology Center at (916) 929-9761 or virginia.myers@crihb.net.