State Health Officials Release Draft Flu Pandemic Preparedness Plan
State health officials on Wednesday released a draft preparedness plan for an influenza pandemic that estimates as much as 35% of the state population could become infected and as many as 35,000 residents could die, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/19). The plan calls for an $11.3 million increase in the fiscal year 2005-2006 budget for the Department of Health Service and a $48.5 million increase in the FY 2006-2007 budget (Wronge, San Jose Mercury News, 1/19).
The plan assumes that a flu pandemic would occur in waves and could last 18 to 24 months. "This level of disease activity would disrupt all aspects of society and severely affect the economy," the plan states (Kleffman, Contra Costa Times, 1/19). State health officials will take public comments on the plan until Feb. 24 and formally adopt the plan in the spring.
According to the draft of the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan, local health departments will develop most of the response measures in the event of a flu pandemic and will receive $17.9 million in funds for those efforts.
Under the plan, local health departments will:
- Conduct initial tests to detect a flu outbreak;
- Provide local education about flu;
- Operate flu vaccine clinics and distribute antiviral medications when they are available; and
- Enforce quarantine and isolation orders when necessary.
The plan also asks:
- The state to allocate about $2 million to stockpile the antiviral medication Tamiflu. The state has ordered 70,000 10-pill treatments of Tamiflu and expects to order 200,000 more when they become available;
- Hospitals to assess their ability to address a sudden increase in severely ill patients at a time when a number of staff members are ill or afraid (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/19);
- The public to practice "social distancing" and wear face masks in the event of a flu pandemic to prevent the spread of the disease (San Jose Mercury News, 1/19);
- The public to maintain emergency supplies of food, water, prescription drugs and other medical supplies (Contra Costa Times, 1/19);
- Health officials to develop model emergency orders "to facilitate mass body storage" and issue recommendations on "mass fatality management" for health care facilities; and
- Health officials to identify individuals who could provide care for the sick during a flu pandemic, such as retired physicians, nurses and other health care professionals (Griffith/Rau, Sacramento Bee, 1/19).
The draft plan is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the plan.
KQED's "The California Report" on Tuesday reported on state and local health officials' plans for a potential avian flu pandemic. The segment includes comments from Jocelyn Freeman-Garrick, director of emergency medical services at Highland Hospital; Carol Glaser, chief of the California Department of Health Services' Viral and Rickettsial Disease Laboratory; Amy Nichols, director of the infection control department at the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center; and Howard Backer, chief of DHS' immunization branch and chief medical consultant for emergency preparedness (Musiker, "The California Report," KQED, 1/17). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.