Health Department Plans H1N1 Meeting for Mayors
Monday night meeting to bring mayors and health boards up to speed on issues.
The Summit Health Department is planning a meeting Monday night for mayors and Boards of Health in the department's coverage area regarding the H1N1 flu.
The department plans on holding the meetings to bring the mayors and public health officials up to speed on the department's planning for the flu vaccine and to help prep for future public health issues in the region. Jubb Corbett, the vice president of the Westfield Board of Health, said the meeting is to let the mayors know what is planned. He noted that with the variety of misinformation traveling around about H1N1 and the vaccine it is important to let the mayors know first hand what is planned by the department.
"We want to bring up to speed all the mayors and Boards of Health on what is planned," Corbett said. "To let them know of ideas and things we're thinking of."
Corbett said the meeting will also serve as a brain storming session for the mayors and board members regarding public health issues. He noted that on several occasions there has been a need for the health department to take a primary emergency management role and has not been notified until after the fact.
He cited an example when a passenger on a New Jersey Transit train coming through Westfield had been taken off because of potential exposure to a biohazard. He said the person had been hosed off by the fire department with firefighters being down wind of the person, a potential public health nightmare. The health department was not informed until after the fact.
The other example cited was a potential anthrax scare in Springfield, a town in the department's coverage area, several years ago. In this case, Corbett said the department was not notified of the potential antrax and police officials mishandled the potential anthrax before it was ruled to not to be anthrax. Corbett said he hopes to use Monday night's meeting to help address these issues and better plan for a large scale issue, such as a bioterrorism attack or H1N1 outbreak.
Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr, whose town is covered by the department, said she is in favor of the joint meeting and having a chance to collaborate with other mayors on the public health issues, particularly the distribution of the H1N1 vaccine. She mentioned the shortage of vaccine at seasonal flu clinic several weeks ago in Garwood for towns in the department. Mahr said it would be good to discuss H1N1 vaccine clinics and possibly recruit people to assist in getting information out to avoid any misinformation at a clinic.
"Maybe we need more volunteers," she said.