HHS Secretary Releases Guide to Help Individuals and Families Get Informed and Be Prepared for a Pandemic

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt today announced the release of "Pandemic Influenza Planning: A Guide for Individuals and Families," a new tool to help Americans understand the threat of pandemic influenza and specific actions they can take to protect themselves and their families.

"Pandemics are global in nature, but their impact is local. When the next pandemic strikes, it is likely to touch the lives of every individual, family and community," Secretary Leavitt said. "This new guide is important reading in every household. It explains the challenges posed by a pandemic outbreak and identifies common-sense steps Americans should take in their homes now to prepare for a pandemic."

Leavitt released the guide at a Pandemic Planning Summit with Arizona officials and community leaders today. This summit is the second in a series of forums that will be convened in each state over the next few months.

The handbook includes a "Pandemic Flu Planning Checklist for Individuals and Families" and "Family Emergency Health Information Sheet to help people gather information and resources they may need. The checklist breaks activities into three categories: To plan for a pandemic;" "To limit the spread of germs and prevent infection;" and "Items to have on hand for an extended stay at home." Examples of specific preparations include:

-- Having any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes and vitamins

-- Talking with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick or what will be needed to care for them in another home

-- Teaching children to wash hands frequently and appropriately, covering coughs and sneezes with tissues, and modeling the correct behavior

-- Having ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables, soups, bottled water and cleaning supplies on-hand for an extended stay at home

The release of this new tool builds on the administration's overall planning to increase pandemic preparedness. President Bush has outlined a coordinated government strategy that includes the establishment of the new International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza, stockpiling of vaccines and antiviral medications, expansion of early-warning systems domestically and abroad and new funding and initiatives for local and state level preparedness.

In December, Leavitt met with senior officials from all 50 states and launched a series of preparedness summits to be held in every state over the next several months with the goal of enhancing state and local preparedness. In addition to todays guide, Leavitt has issued preparedness checklists for businesses and state and local health departments to aide their pandemic preparedness efforts. Next week, he will participate in state planning summits in Vermont, West Virginia, Rhode Island, and Georgia.

Source: HHS

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