HHS asks states for pandemic plans

HHS State Pandemic Plan Checklist

The Department of Health and Human Services wants all 50 states to develop pandemic plans that mirror the federal plan released earlier this month. It has provided a comprehensive 64-point checklist to help guide the states.

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt kicked off efforts to develop integrated federal, state and local pandemic plans at a conference today attended by representatives from all 50 states. He said coordination at the state and local level is critical if a pandemic hits the Untied States.

Leavitt added that “pandemic planning needs to go beyond public health. Discussion at the state and local level needs to address how schools, businesses, public agencies and others participate in pandemic preparedness.”

HHS plans to a hold series of pandemic-planning summits in every state during the next several months, with the first planned for Minnesota Dec. 14.

HHS has advised states to:

• Form a Pandemic Influenza Coordinating Committee.

• Develop a plan that will delineate the roles and responsibilities of state and local agencies.

• Build on existing preparedness and response plans for bioterrorism events and other infectious disease emergencies.

• Address legal issues, including those that affect hospital staffing, patient care and quarantines.

HHS emphasized that its “State and Local Health Department Planning Checklist for Public Health Roles and Responsibilities,” released today, was not mandatory but summarizes key planning activities that each state’s public health system should follow in collaboration with partners.

The checklist covers many elements of pandemic preparedness, including disease surveillance, infection control and clinical guidelines, vaccine distribution, public health communications and support for the health care workforce.

The checklist sections mirror the federal plan and contain detailed points that HHS suggests state and local health departments do to prepare for a pandemic.

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