pandemic flu planning article

pandemic flu planning article - P. Edward French...

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P. Edward French Mississippi State University Eric S. Raymond University of Georgia Pandemic Influenza Planning: An Extraordinary Ethical Dilemma for Local Government Officials The possibility of an influenza pandemic occurring within the next two decades is very real; the role of local governments in comprehensive preparation for this global threat is crucial. The federal government has provided broad guidelines for state and local officials who are ultimately responsible for emergency response and lifesaving services, vaccination and antiviral use, and the provision of other critical support. Much of this influenza pandemic preparedness has occurred under conditions of uncertainty, and these government actions may have unprecedented legal and ethical implications. This study evaluates the pandemic influenza policies of eight large U.S. cities to determine how Department of Health and Human Services recommendations with ethical and legal implications have been addressed. The authors find that several important aspects of these guidelines are vague in many plans, and input from key stakeholders is inadequate. he 1918 influenza pandemic killed more than 50 million people worldwide, with an estimat- ed 675,000 deaths in the United States alone during the outbreak (DHHS 2007). A pandemic of this proportion occurring today would extrapolate to 1.9 million deaths in the United States and 180 million to 369 million deaths globally if public health interventions are not instigated (Osterholm 2005). The impact on cities, states, the nation, and the global community would be devastating. Experts note that there have been between 10 and 13 influenza pan- demics in the world since the early 1700s, and they estimate that a pandemic will occur every 30 to 50 years (Knapp 2006). The last one occurred in 1968. Based on this information, the probability of another pandemic within the next quarter century is very real. The likelihood of its arrival means that emergency plans coordinating federal, state, and local responses must be in place. The role of local governments in the planning and implementation processes is paramount. Planning for this health threat, however, can present numerous obstacles. Whether a pandemic will be caused by avian influenza or another virus is difficult to predict. While the federal government has stock- piled vaccine against the H5N1 strain, which is the most likely viral source, this vaccine has been shown to produce the desired level of antibody needed to reduce the risk of contracting influenza in only 45 percent of healthy adults in a clinical study (Progress Report 2007). Also, pandemics occur in waves and endure for at least 18 months. Government officials must be prepared to face the first wave with- out an effective vaccine and with a limited amount of antiviral medications. Experts note that the imple- mentation of nonpharmaceutical interventions during this time period is perhaps the most crucial element in limiting the effects and dissemination of a deadly virus
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pandemic flu planning article - P. Edward French...

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