Implementation of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions by New York City Public Schools to Prevent 2009 Influenza A

The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 01/2013; 8(1):e50916. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050916
Source: PubMed


Children are important transmitters of influenza in the community and a number of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), including hand washing and use of hand sanitizer, have been recommended to mitigate the transmission of influenza, but limited information is available regarding schools' ability to implement these NPIs during an influenza outbreak. We evaluated implementation of NPIs during fall 2009 in response to H1N1 pandemic influenza (pH1N1) by New York City (NYC) public schools.
From January 25 through February 9, 2010, an online survey was sent to all the 1,632 NYC public schools and principals were asked to participate in the survey or to designate a school nurse or other school official with knowledge of school policies and characteristics to do so.
Of 1,633 schools, 376(23%) accessed and completed the survey. Nearly all respondents (99%) implemented at least two NPIs. Schools that had a Flu Response Team (FRT) as a part of school emergency preparedness plan were more likely to implement the NPI guidelines recommended by NYC public health officials than schools that did not have a FRT. Designation of a room for isolating ill students, for example, was more common in schools with a FRT (72%) than those without (53%) (p<0.001).
Implementing an NPI program in a large school system to mitigate the effects of an influenza outbreak is feasible, but there is potential need for additional resources in some schools to increase capacity and adherence to all recommendations. Public health influenza-preparedness plans should include school preparedness planning and FRTs.

Download full-text


Available from: Joseph R Egger, Jul 15, 2014
22 Reads
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Many schools throughout the United States reported an increase in dismissals due to the 2009 influenza A H1N1 pandemic (pH1N1). During the fall months of 2009, more than 567 school dismissals were reported from the state of Michigan. In December 2009, the Michigan Department of Community Health, in collaboration with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, conducted a survey to describe the knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAPs) of households with school-aged children and classroom teachers regarding the recommended use of nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to slow the spread of influenza. A random sample of eight elementary schools (kindergarten through 5th grade) was selected from each of the eight public health preparedness regions in the state. Within each selected school, a single classroom was randomly identified from each grade (K-5), and household caregivers of the classroom students and their respective teachers were asked to participate in the survey. In total, 26% (2,188/8,280) of household caregivers and 45% (163/360) of teachers from 48 schools (of the 64 sampled) responded to the survey. Of the 48 participating schools, 27% (13) experienced a school dismissal during the 2009 fall term. Eighty-seven percent (1,806/2,082) of caregivers and 80% (122/152) of teachers thought that the 2009 influenza A H1N1 pandemic was severe, and >90% of both groups indicated that they told their children/students to use NPIs, such as washing hands more often and covering coughs with tissues, to prevent infection with influenza. Knowledge and instruction on the use of NPIs appeared to be high among household caregivers and teachers responding to the survey. Nevertheless, public health officials should continue to explain the public health rationale for NPIs to reduce pandemic influenza. Ensuring this information is communicated to household caregivers and teachers through trusted sources is essential.
    PLoS ONE 04/2014; 9(4):e94290. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0094290 · 3.23 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Objectives: Studies have shown that differences among individuals and social groups in accessing and using information on health and specific threats have an impact on their knowledge and behaviors. These differences, characterized as communication inequalities, may hamper the strength of a society's response to a public health emergency. Such inequalities not only make vulnerable populations subject to a disproportionate burden of adversity, but also compromise the public health system's efforts to prevent and respond to pandemic influenza outbreaks. We investigated the effect of socioeconomic status (SES) and health communication behaviors (including barriers) on people's knowledge and misconceptions about pandemic influenza A(H1N1) (pH1N1) and adoption of prevention behaviors. Methods: The data for this study came from a survey of 1,569 respondents drawn from a nationally representative sample of American adults during pH1N1. We conducted logistic regression analyses when appropriate. Results: We found that (1) SES has a significant association with barriers to information access and processing, levels of pH1N1-related knowledge, and misconceptions; (2) levels of pH1N1-related knowledge are associated positively with the adoption of recommended prevention measures and negatively with the adoption of incorrect protective behaviors; and (3) people with higher SES, higher news exposure, and higher levels of pH1N1-related knowledge, as well as those who actively seek information, are less likely than their counterparts to adopt incorrect prevention behaviors. Conclusion: Strategic public health communication efforts in public health preparedness and during emergencies should take into account potential communication inequalities and develop campaigns that reach across different social groups.
    Public Health Reports 10/2014; 129 Suppl 4:49-60. · 1.55 Impact Factor