The Pandemic Flu: Planning and Preparedness




Introduction: The Pandemic Flu

One of the most common illnesses affecting man is the flu. To most people, a bout of flu is simply having fever, coughs, fatigue, headache, and runny nose, among many others. However, little do these people know that a simple flu, if uncontained, could prove fatal to the community.

According to the World Health Organization, the recent outbreak of the H5N1 avian influenza or bird flu is a sign that another pandemic influenza can occur. It can be recalled that from 1918-1919, a similar influenza pandemic which claimed an estimated 50 million lives all around the world (Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, 2006). The virus killed more people than AIDS has killed in 24 years. In the United States alone, the death toll of the 1918-1919 began at 500,000 although some estimate the number to be as high as 700,000.

In addition, the morbidity rate during that time was 15 % to 30 % and in San Antonio alone, it was reported that at least one family member suffered from the flu (Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, 2006), which is highly contagious as it is a respiratory illness and can spread through coughing, sneezing, or touching of objects contaminated with the virus, among others.

The death rates were just as high in army camps where people are closer together most of the time. In most camps, the morbidity rate was 5 %. However, in other camps it could go as high 10% and, in certain cases, 30% (Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, 2006). Similarly, in the 1957 flu pandemic in Asia, 25 % of all of the deaths were directly caused by viral pneumonia (Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, 2006). Thus it can be surmised that the flu can spread more quickly in enclosed areas and eventually spread to other areas, causing a pandemic. Moreover, it is estimated that if a pandemic influenza virus similar to the strain in 1918 were to emerge today, it can kill more or less 1.9 million Americans and hospitalize 10 million more as the virus continues to evolve (United States Department of Health and Human Services, 2005).

Based on the studies of health officials and researchers, similar to the case of H5N1, certain strains of the influenza virus can mutate and pose a new threat that can devastate the community because it has no cure. Although it is not certain when will happen, people need to be more prepared and be more aware of the possibility of another global pandemic should it happen. In this regard, this paper will briefly discuss the preventive and preparatory steps that the community together with concerned organizations must take in order to prevent another catastrophic pandemic such as the from 1918-1919.


Planning and Preparedness

As various health organizations point out, the main key to prevent a new strain of the virus from spreading and turning into a global pandemic is preparation. In this regard, U.S. organizations and other global agencies and groups have outlined several steps that communities need to take in order be more prepared in the event of a pandemic. These organizations include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Homeland Security Council, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security.

However, before making and executing preventive plans, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are assumptions that need to be considered. These include: (1) the virus can rapidly spread across the globe, (2) there are people who may show no symptoms despite being infected, (3) There could be simultaneous outbreaks across America which can limit the capability of states to lend aid and support to one another, (4) There will be a huge demand in the healthcare sector, (5) Delay in the delivery and scarcity of antiviral drugs and vaccines, and (6) The disruption of infrastructures such as commerce, public utilities, public safety, and transportation because of the widespread death and illnesses in the population and also the fear of families about the virus (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2005). Basically, these assumptions will serve as guidelines in the planning and preparation for a pandemic flu in all levels of society.

In general, former president George W. Bush’s strategy for the pandemic influenza revolves around three major techniques: (1) preparedness and communication, (2) surveillance and detection; and (3) response and containment (U.S. Homeland Security Council, 2006). However, in the January 2009 report done by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, it was shown that there are certain key areas in president Bush’s plan that need to be strengthened in order to ensure maximum preparation. These include the country’s bio surveillance of animals, the planning of key activities that concern all major stakeholders (the people), the coordination between states and the Federal government, the reporting on the level of pandemic threats, the scant hospital resources, and the prioritization by the Federal government on pandemic influenza preparedness (U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, 2009). Basically, the report recommended that following the change of leadership in the presidency the following steps need to be done in order to boost preparedness for a pandemic flu:

·         Restore the leadership to the White House in making national efforts to combat the global pandemic

·         Reporting by concerned officials on a consistent basis and more effective public health, safety, and security coordination at the Federal level.

·         Address the crucial medical requirements and materials such as drugs, hospital facilities, and pharmaceuticals, among many others.

·         Constantly update and assess the plans to avert a pandemic influenza and also understand how terrorists can possibly take advantage of such a situation.

On the other hand, the World Health Organization believes that there should be a concerted effort in the monitoring and containment of animals that can potentially carry new strains of viruses. In addition, considering the disastrous effects that a pandemic influenza can cause, more resources should be allocated in the research of the possible viral strains that can emerge in the next years or so (World Health Organization, 2006). This can help the government and other concerned bodies better predict the effects of the next viral outbreak and soften its effects.


Preventive Steps

Although the emergence of a new strain of flu virus is unavoidable and sometimes, like the case of H5N1 avian influenza, rapid and abrupt, its effects can be mitigated provided that the proper preventive steps are taken. However, like any global concerns such as terrorist threats, it is important for the families and other members of the community to do their part in lessening the impact of such a pandemic. As the United States Homeland Security and the United States House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security pointed out, coordination and communication among all sectors of society is crucial in containing any pandemic threat.

Generally, the first step that families and other members of the community must take is obtaining sufficient knowledge regarding the pandemic influenza. Parents should educate their children regarding the effects of this virus and implement safety and hygienic measures that can prevent house members from contracting the virus. These may include simple things such as frequent washing of hands and covering one’s mouth when coughing, among many others (World Health Organization, 2006). In addition, local communities should also set-up a group that would constantly coordinate with the government bodies in monitoring and assessing possible pandemic threats in their respective jurisdictions (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2006).

On the other hand, in schools, officials should also implement plans that would educate students regarding the causes and effects of a pandemic threat. These may include education on the signs and symptoms of influenza and the steps to take in case a person becomes infected (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2006). The students, in turn, should coordinate school-wide activities that would promote awareness of the pandemic and facilitate preventive steps against the virus.

Furthermore, coordination with the media is an effective way in educating the public as this can help spread information fast. It is necessary for businesses, schools, and other sectors of a community to also notify the media aside from concerned health officials in case a suspected pandemic occurs (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2006). This also helps inform the public of the present situation and makes them more vigilant in dealing with this kind of threat.



In short, it can be said that the pandemic influenza remains a serious threat to all nations around the world. It is then important for the various sectors of society, such as government and the public, to coordinate in all plans to combat the virus. Most of all, education about the virus and cooperation in local communities is crucial as it would greatly help government organizations in dealing with the pandemic.  In turn, local communities and families should be not take this matter very lightly as this a serious threat not only to public health, but also to national security and infrastructure as it could cripple the economy, disrupt public transportation, and, spread to neighboring countries or areas.


Homeland Security Council. (2006, May). National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza- Implementation Plan. Retrieved February 28, 2009 from

United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). (2005, November). HHS Pandemic Influenza Plan. Retrieved February 28, 2009 from

United States Department of Health and Human Services & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2006, October). Workshop Proceedings, Pandemic Influenza—Past, Present, Future: Communicating Today Based on the Lessons from the 1918–1919 Influenza Pandemic. Retrieved February 28, 2009 from

United States Department of Homeland Security. (2006, September 12). Pandemic Influenza Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Guide for Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources. Retrieved February 28, 2009 from

United States House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security. (2009, January). Getting Beyond Getting Ready for Pandemic Influenza. Retrieved February 28, 2009 from

World Health Organization. (2006, May). WHO pandemic influenza draft protocol for rapid response and containment. Retrieved February 28, 2009 from



The Department of Health in New York (2008, health. state. ny. us) defines a pandemic as a kind of epidemic that spreads swiftly all over the world with high rates of death and illnesses. A pandemic is different from influenza …

A well-informed society is the call of the day. This information, aside from local and global politics, economies, and peace building, must imperatively include appropriate responses to catastrophes, disasters, and pandemic illnesses. Of late, the novel H1N1, commonly referred to …

Epidemic and/or pandemic diseases are infectious. From way back, even during the biblical times, mankind have stood witness to infectious disease of one and every kind. From the leprosy that Jesus Christ healed in His time that stood as both …

Acquired Immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the final stage of HIV disease, which causes severe damage to immune system and numerous of dead all over the world. AIDS is the sixth leading cause of death among people ages 25 – …

David from Healtheappointments:

Hi there, would you like to get such a paper? How about receiving a customized one? Check it out