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What is a Pandemic Flu Plan?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 April 2018
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Pandemic flu is typically defined as widespread contagion with a newly mutated form of influenza A, and there have been past serious pandemics that have strong effects on multiple countries at once. There are many epidemiologists and other medical experts who are quite certain it is only a matter of time before a flu pandemic with a high rate of serious illness complications or death hits, and all countries must look at ways to prepare for this. Many different agencies include the World Health Organization, the US Health and Human Services, and a number of other country health agencies and state governments have a pandemic flu plan to address flu pandemic if it occurs.

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It has to be understood that pandemic flu can have a huge impact on virtually all aspects of society. If enough people get sick, just about every government system suffers and becomes overtaxed, and the private sector can also suffer, since many people are too sick to work. Some of the issues that have to be addressed in a pandemic flu plan include how to try to contain and/or prevent flu so it doesn’t spread further, how to deal with overtaxed medical systems and insufficient medical supplies, how to help businesses that may be dealing with inadequate work forces, what methods can be used for getting information to the public, and how to coordinate multiple agencies so they all work toward the same goal. Plans may exist at every level: city, state, country, at any health related agencies, and even at some businesses, and these may work best when they work in concert with all other plans.

Clearly some of the most important aspects of a pandemic flu plan involve all medical concerns. Preventing more contagion is vital, since greater contagion will impact just about every other part of a plan and might result in higher mortality. There are sometimes ways to quickly produce vaccines, and governments may free vaccine making companies of normal liabilities or testing requirements so that they can work speedily. Governments also have to consider when or if they should restrict travel, and whether to close things like schools, public sites, or even privately owned businesses and public venues (like movie theaters). Another issue considered is the protocol for containing or quarantining those people who have flu.

Medical considerations stretch even farther in a pandemic flu plan. Since stockpiles of things like anti-viral drugs are limited, governments may determine who gets treated and who doesn’t. Plans must take into account what to do, too, when hospitals are overfilled with patients, and must determine protocol for sick patients heading to the hospital.

If high restrictions on travel, operation of businesses or quarantine are in place, most private and public employers will be affected, and this could affect a number of typical services, like access to Internet, phones, television, and more. Governments must have a plan for how to keep getting information to the people, who obviously can't comply with plans they don't know about, and to each agency. They therefore may have a plan to provide short-term support to some service industry businesses. Governments might also need a longer term plan for helping out industry that has been significantly impacted by closures or absenteeism as related to the pandemic.

Lastly, just about every pandemic flu plan out there looks at the ways that agencies can communicate with each other. The best laid plans can go seriously astray when a failure in communication occurs. Having a predefined method for how to communicate may streamline execution of these plans on all levels. This would hopefully provide the best chances of dealing with a pandemic in the most effective and helpful ways.

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