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Health & Human Services (HHS) Drafts Pandemic Influenza Plan

In September 2004, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) stepped up its efforts to increase domestic and global influenza vaccine supplies and implement quick infection-control strategies with state and local health departments in case of an influenza pandemic. The National Vaccine Program report, titled Draft Pandemic Response and Preparedness Plan, outlines a coordinated national strategy to respond to an influenza pandemic. This plan was based on new information learned during the SARS epidemic and cases involving avian flu.

The report focuses on five key areas: surveillance of cases, vaccine development and production, antiviral stockpiling, research and public-health preparedness. Resources have been scaled up to increase both domestic and global detection and surveillance, expand vaccine production and bolster the Strategic National Stockpile.

The report also calls for more stringent infection-control strategies such as issuing travel advisories and precautions, screening people arriving from affected areas, closing schools and restricting public gatherings, and quarantining exposed people in an effort to reduce transmission. A draft of the plan can be found at www.hhs.gov/nvpo/pandemicplan.

Highlights from the Draft HHS Guidelines:

1. Infection control precautions will combine standard and droplet precautions. Droplet precautions address droplets expelled during coughing, sneezing, talking and procedures that generate an aerosol. Droplet precautions should be used when caring for any patient with suspected or confirmed influenza.

2. Wear gloves when in direct hand contact with respiratory secretions or suspected contaminated surfaces.

3. Wear a cover gown if your clothing may come in contact with the patient’s respiratory secretions.

4. Wash hands after glove removal and before touching another patient.

5. If hands are soiled with respiratory secretions, wash with an antimicrobial solution or a non-antimicrobial (plain soap) for 10–15 seconds. If not visibly soiled, wash with an alcohol-based foam or gel.

6. Wear a surgical-style mask when entering a room or working within three feet of a suspect patient.

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