Shortage Situations to Pandemic Protocols:

Influenza Lessons from a Local Health Department


Speaker:                     Michele Samarya-Timm, MA, CHES, REHS, DAAS

Health Officer, Health Educator

Franklin Township Health Department


Level of Knowledge: Multi-Level


Long Abstract:

The 2004 shortage of influenza vaccine challenged the existing immunization policies and practices of many local health departments. Managing information/distribution of limited and fluctuating vaccine supplies to health care agencies, private practitioners and directly to the public forced Franklin Township Health Department (FTHD) to rapidly create and evaluate event-specific protocols.  Approval of local politicians was essential; public education and comprehension were critical.

Despite collaborative efforts with public and private partners, existing plans did not adequately address the peripheral needs of the vaccine shortage: non-emergency communications with local physicians; public demand for information, services, and vaccine; an influx of persons not ordinarily immunized by the department; and confusing media messages.  The gaps and problems identified in addressing the vaccine shortage lay the foundation for Franklin Township Health Department to create more practiced communicable disease and influenza pandemic protocols.

This presentation will address the failure of existing health protocols to ensure effective communication during a communicable disease event, and encourage all in public health to re-examine existing policies /procedures to improve routine and pandemic communicable disease and influenza preparedness. 


Learning Objectives:


  1. Evaluate and update existing agency protocols to support emergency health efforts.
  2. Identify elements essential to emergency health policy development.
  3. Apply lessons learned to improve the provision of necessary health services in unexpected or emergency situations.