The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have provided helpful information regarding the preparation and response to pandemic influenza. Building a good relationship with local health department officials is also beneficial as you develop your plan. The potential for influenza pandemics to spread quickly is very high.
The World Health Organization has classified pandemic viruses into six phases; ranging from little or no effect of the virus spreading from animals to humans, to large scale global implications of the virus spreading from human-to-human in more than one country.
The following are suggested steps to be taken in the planning and coordination of your response to a pandemic:
- Identify the authority responsible for declaring a public health emergency at the state and local levels as it relates to the Pandemic Influenza Response Plan.
- Identify the authorities responsible for executing the community operational plan; i.e., case identification, quarantine, movement restriction, health care services, emergency care, and mutual aid.
- Work with local and/or state health departments and other community partners to establish organizational structures, such as the Incident Command System (ICS), to manage the pandemic flu plan.
- The ICS follows specific steps to assess the threat level, establish priorities, assign responsibilities, and to execute a plan of action.
- Participate in exercises regarding the community's pandemic plan. Share your concerns with community partners.
- Periodically review your plan through various drills/exercises to ensure that any needed changes or updates to the plan will be made.
- Maintain sufficient and accessible infection prevention supplies; i.e., soap, alcohol-based waterless hand cleaner, tissues, and receptacles for disposal.
- Initiate dissemination plan for communication with staff and others. Take into consideration any language barriers. Good communication is essential to the success of your plan.
- Should the problem escalate, closely monitor health department briefings and updates to ensure you are following accepted policy and procedures to limit exposure and the spread of the pandemic.