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HHS Releases Pandemic Influenza Plan

November 2, 2005 -- WASHINGTON, DC -- HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt today released the HHS Pandemic Influenza Plan, a detailed guide for how our nation's health care system can prepare and respond to an influenza pandemic. The HHS plan is the medical and public health component of the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza, announced by the President yesterday.

"An influenza pandemic would test our nation's health care system as never before, and this plan anticipates the specific problems we will face and recommends solutions to better protect the American people," Secretary Leavitt said. "A pandemic will cause disease outbreaks in many different communities all at the same time making State and local preparedness so important in saving lives."

* The HHS plan specifies four major components of preparedness and response to pandemic influenza.

* Intensifying surveillance and collaborating on containment measures -- both international and domestic;

* Stockpiling of antivirals and vaccines and working with industry to expand capacity for production of these medical countermeasures;

* Creating a seamless network of Federal, state and local preparedness, including increasing health care surge capacity; and

* Developing the public education and communications efforts so critical to keeping the public informed.

The HHS plan also provides guidance to state and local partners on topics including: staffing and supplies required for a surge in patients; distribution of vaccines and antiviral drugs -- particularly when they are in short supply; roles and responsibilities for decision makers in a community; and measures to control infection and limit the spread of disease. The final plan reflects input and comments received after a draft plan was published in the Federal Register in August 2004.

On Tuesday, President Bush announced an aggressive $7.1 billion national strategy to safeguard against the danger of pandemic influenza. The request included $6.7 billion in additional 2006 appropriations for HHS. Approximately $4.7 billion would go toward investments in creating vaccine production capacity and stockpiles, $1.4 billion to stockpile antiviral drugs, and $555 for surveillance, public health infrastructure, and communications, including $100 million for state and local preparedness.

"The preparations we make for a pandemic today will have lasting benefits for public health and for our ability to be better prepared for any emergency, whether it's deadly virus or another public health emergency," Secretary Leavitt said.

The plan can be found online at www.pandemicflu.gov.

Source: Department of Health and Human Services

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