Flu Pandemic Preparedness Planning Continues
Health and legal experts met last week to discuss preparedness plans for a potential avian influenza pandemic, the Oakland Tribune reports. Officials discussed the impact of a pandemic on civil liberties, including patient privacy (Bohan, Oakland Tribune, 5/1).
Meanwhile, in Contra Costa, Alameda and San Joaquin counties, police chiefs are being consulted and hospitals are being told to prepare for an influx of patients in the event of a pandemic.
Contra Costa County Health Services spokesperson Julie Freestone said the county is assuming that vaccines or antibiotics would be available to treat the disease. Freestone said the county would consider requesting medications from the Strategic National Stockpile and distribute them at emergency clinics throughout the county.
Contra Costa County officials are using CDC software to estimate demand on hospital beds during a pandemic. According to Freestone, Contra Costa County officials are in discussions with hospitals about accommodating a surge in patients.
San Joaquin County health officials are working to create large-scale vaccination clinics and antibiotic distribution centers, as well as establishing "policies and procedures of isolation and quarantine," according to Karen Furst, public health officer at San Joaquin County Public Health Services.
Francie Wise, director of communicable disease control at Contra Costa Health Services, said, "Bird flu will probably be here this year," but that "does not mean that it will become a" pandemic (Read, Oakland Tribune, 5/1).