Yesterday, as I was searching the website of New York City Department of Health to find a vaccination center location near me to get a H1N1 vaccine I came upon a new citizen volunteer initiative just launched by the City, “Flu Fighters,” as part of its NYC Service program.
According to the “Flu Fighters”/NYC Service web page, “Flu Fighters will mobilize hundreds of volunteers to conduct outreach and awareness activities 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.”Â The Health Department’s flu page underscores the appeal: “Become a Flu Fighter and Help Save Lives!” So, of course, I signed up.Â
The “Flu Fighters” campaign has not yet received a lot of attention or been highly promoted by City officials. That may be largely because of delays in the delivery of the vaccine. In fact, though many areas around the country have begun to solicit citizen volunteer help for the massive H1N1 vaccine rollout, there has not been a major public deployment to date. That may change as more supplies become available and the weather turns colder.
The webpage further explains the various “Flu Fighter” responsibilities:
Community Outreach Volunteers: As a community outreach volunteer, you will promote influenza vaccination and prevention in your neighborhood. You will receive a Flu Fighter Action kit with posters and brochures to distribute at work, places of worship, local senior centers, pharmacies, local stores, or at other community hubs. You can distribute these materials at times and in places that are convenient for you.
Once you sign up, NYC Service will contact you about influenza vaccination centers or awareness events that may be taking place in your neighborhood throughout the influenza season. You can help promote these events by handing out flyers, posting signs, or bringing a friend or family member to get vaccinated.
Vaccination Pledge Volunteers:Â Protect your family and friends from influenza! As a vaccination pledge volunteer, you will pledge to remind people you know to get vaccinated. You will receive information on which people are mostly likely to get ill from seasonal or H1N1 influenza so that you can encourage them to get vaccinated. You will also receive information on where people can get vaccinated in their neighborhood.
Parent Outreach Volunteers:Â If you are the parent or guardian of a child in elementary, middle, or high school, you can help your childâ€™s school as a parent outreach volunteer. This year, the City will be offering influenza vaccinations at elementary schools and at large weekend vaccination centers. Every child must have a consent form signed by their parent/guardian in order to receive the vaccine. Parent outreach volunteers will assist the vaccination consent process by attending school events to provide materials to other parents about the importance of vaccination and to remind them of the consent form due date.
Parents whose childâ€™s school has a call tree can also volunteer to contact other parents to remind them of the consent form due date. You will receive all of the materials that you need to carry out these activities and can choose which activity is best for you.
Vaccination Center Volunteers:Â As a vaccination center volunteer, you will help out at one of the weekend vaccination centers (also known as Points of Dispensing, or PODs) that will take place across the city. You can help to distribute screening forms or manage the flow of people in and out of the vaccination center. If you are bilingual, you can translate in order to help people who do not speak English understand the signs and instructions.
For more information on “Flu Fighters” click here.