It's that time of year again. Time to be forward thinking for flu.
Despite the less-than-glamorous remarks I get from some planners and responders, I continue to hold the position that flu; seasonal or novel strain, is a naturally occurring biological event. Look at the situation in that frame for just a second or two...If you knew there was going to be a biological event occurring in your community in the next few months, would you begin preparing for it now? I certainly hope so.
We know that seasonal influenza kills 30-35 thousand people in the United States every year. And we also know (now) that vaccine production and distribution in the event of a novel (or, perhaps intentional) biological event will be slow and sparse. So why wait until flu season (with or with a novel strain or variant) to begin preparing to meet the demands this naturally occurring event will place on your public and your service? I'd like to offer my list of things to consider when reviewing/planning for the 2010 flu season:
CDC Drops N95 Requirement) Also, consider appropriate social distancing...that is, stay home if you're sick. Many employers don't like to hear about this one. It is irresponsible to go to work (especially if you have contact with the public) if you are ill. Those involved in planning must account for the possibility that the workforce will be decreased, perhaps significantly, by members not reporting due to illness. You must also consider the absentee rate to increase due to employees remaining home to care for significant others who are ill or children when schools/daycare centers are closed.
I encourage everyone to review the Mitigation Journal posting Bio-Event Ready or Die! 3 Thing to do, Today. originally posted August, 2009, for more on this topic.
For a summary of Mitigation Journal blog postings and podcast episodes on flu and flu-related topics, click here