Michigan Forms Flu Advisory Board

In response to the challenges of managing coordinated state, regional, and local responses to annual occurrences of influenza, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has formed an Influenza Advisory Board, a group of dedicated professionals committed to controlling disease outbreaks and communicating effectively during crisis.

"As a consequence of the challenges many states have faced over the last several years, Michigan is taking proactive steps to solve problems created by annual occurrences of influenza," said Janet Olszewski, MDCH director. "The Flu Advisory Board is a unique, one-of-a-kind effort that will ultimately ensure that the public health is protected during influenza season."

The Flu Advisory Board (FAB) consists of approximately 60 interested individuals representing public and private health and is an extension of the Michigan Advisory Committee on Immunizations (MACI).

"While we always strive to ensure that the public health of Michigan is protected during flu season, our country also has experienced vaccine shortages in three of the four previous flu seasons," says Dr. Dean Sienko, acting state chief medical executive. "Through the FAB, Michigan will have the ability to coordinate vaccine supply and ensure that our most vulnerable citizens are protected throughout the entire flu season."

Agencies and organizations represented include physican groups, several visiting nurses associations, health systems, health plans, private medical practices, more than 30 health advocacy groups, and 15 local public health departments, Sienko said. Already, the FAB has created a communications infrastructure so internal policy makers and external stakeholders can relay messages in an efficient manner, he said.

"Because of last years national flu vaccine shortage, many of Michigans citizens were without protection against the flu, and the shortage exposed several infrastructure problems statewide," says Dr. Gary Kirk, director of MDCHs Division of Immunization and chair of the FAB. "The intent of FAB is to enhance communication during the flu season, so Michigan can deploy the appropriate resources in a timely manner, and make rapid decisions that can ultimately save lives."

FAB meets eight times per year; four of the meetings are quarterly face-to-face meetings following regularly scheduled MACI meetings, and the other four are via conference call in between the face-to-face meetings.

Source: Michigan Department of Community Health