January 6, 2010
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano has announced that three Nassau County Departments - Health, Social Services and Housing and Homeless Services - have joined forces in a special effort to have the homeless receive the H1N1 vaccine. Nurses from the Health Department are traveling out with the DSS Homeless Intervention Teams (HIT) to locate those individuals refusing to come in from the cold.
"While our homeless are reluctant to come into our shelters, we know where many of them are,” said County Executive Mangano. “Our HIT group can reach them with warm clothing and food and, now the combined efforts and planning of our county departments will also insure that the homeless receive medical attention as well."
“Vaccination is the single most effective method to prevent influenza. The Department of Health is trying to reach the most vulnerable populations to prevent illness. Traditionally, the homeless are considered a hard to reach population who tend to congregate in settings that may make them more vulnerable to illness. It is our goal to bring vaccines to these residents who otherwise would not seek out vaccination,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Maria Torroella Carney.
Department of Social Services Commissioner John Imhof notes that “the homeless are always at high risk of illness, especially when they decide to stay out in the cold and refuse all efforts to seek protection in any of our County’s shelters. So by this program we’re bringing health care services to where they live, and perhaps we may have success in persuading them to seek further care.”
Housing and Homeless Services Director Connie Lassandro concurred, stating that “this vaccination program will be able to reach hundreds of homeless individuals who otherwise would go unprotected against the flu and other illnesses. We’re notifying all our shelters to work with the Health Department in having the residents, especially the nearly 100 young children under 5 years of age, receive the H1N1 vaccine.