Collaborative partnerships developed for other goals may be effectively applied to H1N1 pandemic response. The Virginia Department of Health's (VDH) partnership with the state's AARP chapter is one such example.
VDH partnered with AARP in 2008 on the agency's campaign to reduce infant mortality. That partnership led to the development of a social networking site called "The Grandmothers Campaign." That campaign is a call for grandmothers to help reduce infant mortality by joining a campaign to give up-to-date information about women's health, prenatal care, and safe sleep. They can receive helpful tools to engage daughters and others in health-oriented conversations.
Grandparents are often overlooked as outreach targets for risk communications, yet they are trusted and influential family members.
Karen Remley, MD, MBA, FAAP, the State Health Commissioner, wrote an open letter encouraging grandparents or others who care for children to obtain accurate information on influenza.
The AARP Bulletin also featured a story that quoted Remley and encouraged people to find accurate information about H1N1 influenza. The article specifically suggests that older people are well-suited to respond to and care for sick children. Remley asks readers to consider being the emergency contact for grandchildren, to help prevent infections, and to encourage vaccination.
Adding swine flu awareness to the Grandmothers Campaign for Healthy Grandchildren is important, said Bill Kallio, AARP senior state director in the bulletin article, "because our members' children and grandchildren are most at risk here."