Are We Ready For An Epidemic? Influenza Preparedness Report

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There's a shortage of flu vaccine in 2013. Image by zeathiel

There’s a shortage of flu vaccine in 2013. Image by zeathiel

Influenza Vaccination and Education

Education is one of the actions that TFAH laid out in their report. This entails educating the public and medical professionals about the seriousness of the flu and the safety of the vaccine. Education also includes making sure all healthcare workers receive the flu vaccine every year. As for the shortage of vaccines this year, TFAH wants to make sure that the vaccine manufactures will be able to produce more vaccines when needed and that vaccines are covered under public and private insurance.

Flu Epidemic Preparedness

During this flu season, due to the extreme number of people that were seeking medical attention, many hospitals couldn’t handle the amount of people and had to turn them away. The TFAH report suggests improving the disaster surge capacity so that hospital personnel can better handle the influx of patients. To make this action a reality, federal, state, and local funding need to be sustained to ensure that there are enough resources and staff to maintain normal day-to-day functions as well as handle emergency needs.

Reauthorize the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act

One of the actions listed in the TFAH report was to reauthorize the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act. The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act was passed and signed by President Bush in December 2006. According to the Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Emergency Division, the reason for this act is to, “to improve the Nation’s public health and medical preparedness and response capabilities for emergencies, whether deliberate, accidental, or natural.” This act would allow public health experts to find the challenges in the public health system so that they can better prevent emergencies and be able to effectively handle emergencies when they do occur.

Epidemic or Pandemic Flu: Preventing Panic, Improving Health Response

The TFAH report covered many potential ways that we can improve the public health response to a flu pandemic or epidemic. If these actions are applied, they would help healthcare workers to have the resources to treat a large amount of people during an epidemic or pandemic, and would  allow for funding so that healthcare workers would have enough resources to do their jobs – as well as preventing vaccine shortages.

When the public health system is more prepared for a serious flu situation, it helps to make the public get prepared as well. Being aware of how dangerous the flu can be is a critical step, but preparing for severe flu outbreaks is extremely difficult because you never know how bad it’s going to be. Having a plan in place helps the whole nation be more prepared for a flu epidemic or pandemic.

Resources:

Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. Report: Preparedness steps hedge against busy flu season. (2013). Accessed January 17, 2013.

Trust For America’s Health. Past Low Flu Vaccination Rates and Gaps in Flu Policies Contribute to Vaccination Shortages and Other Problems in Preparedness. (2013). Accessed January 18, 2013.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act. (2010). Accessed January 18, 2013.

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