ARCHIVED - Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Meningococcal Disease


8.0 Communication Strategies

8.1 Communication Pertaining to Sporadic Cases

There is usually no need to inform the general public of a sporadic case, even if it involves a fatality. However, it is important that a communication strategy be prepared in advance in order to address any questions that may arise among those concerned with the control measures. Details of the communication strategy need to be tailored to the context of the sporadic case (e.g. liaison with school authorities is important when a case is a student).

8.2 Communication Pertaining to Outbreaks

It is essential that a communication strategy be in place to provide timely information to the public when an outbreak occurs. A communication strategy aimed at the health care community should also be developed. This should include the criteria and the process for reporting to public health, timely surveillance reports and updates, guidelines on early diagnosis (including signs and symptoms), and recommended treatment and prophylactic measures. It is important to involve the health care community as early as possible after the recognition of an outbreak. An outbreak advisory committee comprising public health representatives, clinicians and medical laboratory personnel should be established. It is particularly important that the adjacent local, provincial and/or territorial jurisdictions be informed about the outbreak and related control strategies. The IRID of the Public Health Agency of Canada should be informed of all outbreaks and is responsible for informing other Canadian and international public health authorities.

8.3 Communication Pertaining to Persistently Elevated Rates

It is essential that a communication strategy be prepared before a decision is made to undertake a program of systematic vaccination. This should be designed and managed with input from a communications expert. In addition to the principles previously described, essential elements of a communication strategy include the following:

  • Wide consultation with public health representatives, clinicians and laboratory personnel before any decision is made.
  • Clearly designated responsibilities. Public health authorities should be responsible for the announcement of the decision and the management of communications with respect to the operation of a control program.
  • Within each organization, one spokesperson should be responsible for communicating with the media.
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