Preparing for Pandemic flu
Pandemic flu remains a concern for employers and workers and it can occur at any time. The effect can be mild, moderate, or severe; this is why preparing for pandemic flu is very important
An influenza pandemic is a global outbreak of a new influenza A virus. Pandemics happen when new (novel) influenza A viruses emerge which are able to infect people easily and spread from person to person in an efficient and sustained way. Because the virus is new to humans, very few people will have immunity against the pandemic virus, and a vaccine might not be widely available. The new virus will make a lot of people sick. How sick people get will depend on the characteristics of the virus, whether or not people have any immunity to that virus, and the health and age of the person being infected.
Although the pandemic H1N1 flu in 2009 was considered by CDC to be mild, it created significant challenges for employers and workers and showed that many workplaces were not prepared. The precautions identified in the resources below give a baseline for infection controls during a seasonal flu outbreak, but may not be enough to protect workers during a pandemic.
It is difficult to predict when the next influenza pandemic will occur or how severe it will be. Wherever and whenever a pandemic starts, everyone around the world is at risk. Countries might, through measures such as border closures and travel restrictions, delay arrival of the virus, but cannot stop it.
How to prepare for Pandemic Flu
Education and outreach are critical to preparing for pandemic flu. Understanding what a pandemic is, what needs to be done at all levels to prepare for pandemic influenza, and what could happen during a pandemic helps us make informed decisions both as individuals and as a nation. Should a pandemic occur the public must be able to depend on its government to provide scientifically sound public health information quickly, openly and dependably.
CDC updates vaccination recommendations for 2017-2018 flu season
CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), also known as the “nasal spray” flu vaccine, again should not be used during the 2017-2018 flu season. ACIP continues to recommend annual flu vaccination, with either the inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) or recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV), for everyone 6 months and older. The IIV and RIV are both available in formulations that protect against either three or four flu viruses.
CDC provides additional information on the recommendation against the use of the nasal spray vaccine and other influenza vaccination guidelines.
The FDA also provides information about a recently licensed vaccine option that may be given without a needle.