Tuesday, November 28, 2006



From the Boston Globe :

If a much-feared worldwide pandemic flu hits Vermont with all its fury, public gatherings could be banned and schools closed. Hospital wards would be set up in tents or gymnasiums. Flu medications would be parceled out, and nonessential medical care suspended.

The number of dead could overwhelm the state's medical examiners and morgues, forcing the state to rent refrigerated trailers to store bodies.

In the end, Vermonters would have to ride out a worst-case pandemic flu outbreak, which could come in waves and last a couple of months. By the time it was over, more than 3,000 people would be dead. Normally about 5,200 people die in Vermont every year.

That's the worst-case scenario state health and emergency preparedness officials are planning for.

In preparing for avian flu, health officials look to the worldwide flu pandemic of 1918 that killed millions. In Vermont an estimated 23,000 people were sickened and 1,800 died.

"The hysteria is justified," said Cote.

But public health officials learned a lot from the 1918 pandemic . For instance, that flu was spread at large public gatherings such as parades, Cote said.

Over the last two years, Vermont has spent more than $2 million in federal grants and state appropriations to prepare for the flu.

There have been numerous exercises involving scores of officials from dozens of communities and agencies; there have been planning sessions, and Vermont is working with other states to coordinate responses to a pandemic. There have been mock vaccination clinics, and Vermont is acquiring 300,000 protective masks for health care workers and 65,000 doses of Tamiflu, a drug that reduces the length and severity of flu symptoms.

Even if a flu pandemic never occurs, preparations under way could be used for other health emergencies, a terrorist attack, or other potential hardships , Cote said

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While the medical response to pandemic flu will be important to controlling its spread and limiting its toll, there are considerable non-medical issues related to flu preparedness that are essential for ensuring the continued well-being of the nation's economy. Planning for Continuity of Operations (COOP) and Continuity of Government (COG) is critical to maintaining the overall viability of society. Thus, while we rightly prepare for the flu, we must be equally prepared to function during the flu.

The Center for Technology and National Security Policy of the DOD's National Defense University has prepared a number of freely-available items which can help civilians be prepared both before and during the flu. "Bird Flu and You" is a poster available in 9 languages with basic information about influenza preparedness. "Weathering the Storm" is a report with information about planning for COOP, including instructions for carrying out "tabletop exercises" with a COOP plan.

Electronic copies of the poster are available at http://www.ndu.edu/ctnsp/Bird_flu.htm. Electronic copies of the report are available at http://www.ndu.edu/ctnsp/Def_Tech/DTP%2038%20Weathering%20The%20Storm.pdf, and to request hard copies of the report, contact the Life Sciences group at lifesciences@ndu.edu.

Robert E. Armstrong, Ph.D.
Mark D. Drapeau, Ph.D.

Center for Technology and National Security Policy
National Defense University
Washington, DC

These views are those of the authors, and not the official views of the U.S. National Defense University, the U.S. Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.