COCA: 2016 and Beyond

In 2016, Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) worked to provide clinicians with accurate, timely, and credible information related to public health emergencies and emerging health threats. COCA would like to share some of our 2016 accomplishments, with an emphasis on COCA’s efforts to provide clinicians with essential and sensible information. COCA also wants to share the changes that are being made to products, based on the helpful feedback received from subscribers and partners.

Emergency Response

Zika Virus

This year, Zika took center stage as the first mosquito-borne virus to cause birth defects. On January 22, 2016, CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to respond to outbreaks of Zika occurring in the Americas and increased reports of birth defects and Guillain-Barré syndrome in areas affected by Zika.

Because clinicians are a vital part of every response, COCA acted quickly and put together the first Zika-focused COCA call, “What Clinicians Need to Know about Zika,” to educate clinicians on the outbreak. More than 2,000 clinicians participated on the live call. To date, COCA continues to host calls and webinars. COCA also develops and disseminates informational resources such as the COCA Updates and Clinical Reminders, and shares published Health Alert Network messages.

COCA team members were on the ground and in the field supporting local response activities in Puerto Rico and American Samoa. Dr. Loretta Jackson-Brown helped to orchestrate the first community-wide Zika Action Day in American Samoa to educate clinicians and the community about the latest Zika guidance and resources. Dr. Jackson-Brown provided this picture (above) of a local store promoting the event that took place.


Ms. Marcy Friedman and Dr. Ibad Khan dedicated their excellent leadership and communication skills during their deployments to Puerto Rico.

During her deployment, Ms. Friedman arranged media interviews for then CDC Director, Dr. Tom Frieden. She shared this picture of Dr. Frieden being interviewed by WSB news correspondent, Sabrina Gibbons Cupit, at the Dengue Branch in Puerto Rico. Ms. Friedman said, “I really enjoyed coordinating media interviews for Dr. Frieden—he amazed me with his knowledge and on-camera presence! And it really caught folks off guard when he gave a press conference in Spanish!”

A major accomplishment for Dr. Khan was establishing and assisting with the clinician calls for healthcare providers in Puerto Rico, focusing on their specific needs to provide updates to latest guidance for healthcare providers.

COCA collaborated on activities with other key federal agencies, like HHS calls with the Surgeon General, Twitter chats with Dr. Frieden, and teleconferences with the White House.


Flint Water Contamination

CDC activated the EOC on February 1, 2016, to broaden the magnitude of resources for the response to the Flint Water Contamination. COCA team members deployed to support this response. A proud moment for the COCA team was seeing Dr. Jackson-Brown featured in an Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Blog called, “Public Health Nurses on the Front Line in Flint,” for her contribution in the response as CDC Flint Field Case Management Team Lead. Dr. Loretta Jackson-Brown is on the right.


COCA fosters partnerships with national clinician organizations to strengthen information-sharing networks before, during, and after a public health emergency. This year, National AHEC [Area Health Education Center] Organization (NAO) joined the list of COCA partnerships.

COCA welcomed the Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP) during a site visit at CDC to learn more about their organization and the great work they are doing to pursue excellence in Native American healthcare.

COCA collaborated with several partners on COCA Calls, including American Society of Microbiology (ASM), Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), Emergency Nurses Association (ENA), American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and American College of Veterinary Preventative Medicine (ACVPM). COCA’s partnerships improved CDC’s ability to reach out to target audiences that supported the latest emergency responses, which ultimately saved lives.

Digital partners, like PlatformQ Health, opened the door to different possibilities like live presentations for public health emergencies and leading health threats. COCA and PlatformQ Health partnered on A CDC Update for Clinicians on Zika Virus Disease. Another online partner, QuantiaMD, helped COCA increase reach of Zika-related calls and webinars to their members of physicians and other clinicians. Almost 11,000 views were documented from the first three Zika webinars.  



The COCA Update contains the latest COCA, CDC, and public health news. It is the COCA product that is distributed most frequently. Other COCA products, including COCA Call Announcements, Clinical Reminders, and HANs, are shared as needed. These were the top performing products for 2016:

COCA Update:
New Interim Guidelines for Caring for Women with Possible Zika Virus Exposure

Clinical Reminder: 
Updated Interim Guidelines for Healthcare Providers Caring for Infants and Children with Possible Zika Virus Infection

Flu Season Begins: Severe Influenza Illness Reported

Call Announcement:
Zika Virus — What Clinicians Need to Know

COCA Calls

Twenty-five COCA Calls and partner calls were held in 2016. All call materials are archived under their designated call page on the COCA Calls webpage.

COCA partnered with CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) and the University of Washington to present a 2016 COCA Call series about CDC’s Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. There were seven webinars in the COCA Call series. Each webinar was recorded and can now be viewed on demand. Free continuing education is available for each webinar.

COCA provides free continuing education opportunities to increase clinicians’ knowledge and competencies of threats to the public’s health. Approximately, 5,000 clinicians received continuing education credits through COCA. Participants shared wonderful feedback like:

"Excellent presentation, case study presentation was especially helpful and interesting."

"I will use the knowledge gained to further our surveillance and recommendations for prevention and treatment of suspect cases."

Social Media

COCA’s Facebook page is used to enhance followers’ knowledge of emerging threats and their effects on human populations, and to provide timely information. In 2016, COCA shared 133 Facebook posts about subjects such as COCA products, latest guidance from CDC, and COCA partners’ conferences.  

What to Look Forward to in 2017

COCA is currently tailoring products to optimize methods of providing timely, accurate, and credible information to clinicians. The number of email subscribers is currently more than 40,000. The goal is to continue to expand the clinician audience this year to ensure that every clinician in the United States has access to the up-to-date information needed to save lives and protect health during emergencies. COCA’s email products are being redesigned to be more user friendly for current and new readers. Finally, COCA is exploring new and innovative ways to connect with clinicians by bringing higher-quality calls and webinars and by offering ways to interact and engage more closely with clinicians. Stay tuned! More information will be shared in the very near future.

Connect with Us

You may provide feedback by sending it to, looking forward to hearing how COCA can better serve you in 2017.

For information about this update or other clinical issues, or to send your feedback, please contact us at

CDC Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity Facebook page – connect with COCA on Facebook
Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity – resources for health care providers
COCA RSS Feed – subscribe to be notified of conference calls, updates, and CDC guidance for health providers
Crisis & Emergency Risk Communication Training – training program that draws from lessons learned during public health emergencies, and incorporates best practices from the fields of risk and crisis communication
Health Alert Network – CDC's primary method of sharing cleared information about urgent public health incidents with public information officers; federal, state, territorial, and local public health practitioners; clinicians; and public health laboratories 

CDC and HHS logos are the exclusive property of the Department of Health and Human Services and may not be used for any purpose without prior express written permission. Use of trade names and commercial sources is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Links to non-federal organizations are provided solely as a service to our users. Links do not constitute an endorsement of any organization by CDC or the federal government, and none should be inferred. CDC is not responsible for the content of the individual organizations. 


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