Progress, Gaps Exhist In State Plans For Pandemic Influenza

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U.S. states and territories have made progress toward planning for an influenza pandemic, but major gaps remain, according to a federal assessment released today.

The HHS science advisor to the secretary led 12 federal departments and two White House offices in developing reviewing state and territory operating plans, called for by the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza: Implementation Plan.

“The results of this assessment provide a broad-brush picture of strengths and weaknesses across various aspects of pandemic preparedness,” Science Advisor Dr. William Raub said. “The report shows that, on the whole, states and territories have accomplished a tremendous amount in a short time. The results also indicate that much remains to be done to become prepared as a nation.”

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State operating plans scored best in protecting citizens. The plans showed no or few major gaps in addressing mass vaccination operations during each phase of pandemic, ensuring surveillance and laboratory capability during each phase of a pandemic, in acquiring and distributing medical countermeasures and in ensuring communication capability.

All state plans did not address or showed major gaps sustaining operations of state agencies, and supporting and protecting state government workers so that the state government could continue to function during an influenza pandemic.

The report noted that continuity of operations for all state agencies merits significant attention if substantial socio-economic disruptions are to be avoided during an influenza pandemic. Even the best plans can fail if managers cannot accommodate the significant absenteeism and disruptions in supporting services and supplies that an influenza pandemic is almost certain to produce.

Influenza pandemics could have a significant impact on social and economic health of the nation, producing a public health emergency more daunting than any other type of naturally occurring, accidental, or terrorist event.

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