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A Citizen’s Eye View of Public Preparedness

Officials Highlight Public’s “Responsibility” & “Role” In Nation’s Response To Swine Flu Situation

April 26th, 2009 · No Comments

At a White House press conference Sunday, Presidential Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan, Centers for Disease Control Acting Director Richard Besser and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stressed the responsibility of citizens to help prepare for and deal with the ongoing Swine Flu situation. During the briefing, the officials explained the government’s response thus far and its plans for the near future. They also answered questions from the press. One of the major themes that came out of the news conference was that the public has a “role” in the nation’s response to the flu. As Brennan said in his prepared remarks:

Clearly we all have individual responsibility for dealing with this situation. We should all be practicing good hygienic practices, such as hand-washing on a regular basis; if you feel sick, it makes sense to stay home; and then also following the other practices that are common sense when we deal with an outbreak of flu every year.

The CDC’s Dr. Besser echoed Brennan in explaining some steps that citizens should be taking right now:

It’s important that people understand that there’s a role for everyone to play when there’s an outbreak going on. There are things that individuals do, there’s things that families do, communities do to try and reduce the impact. At the individual level, it’s important people understand how they can prevent respiratory infections. Very frequent hand-washing is something that we talk about time and time again and that is an effective way to reduce transmission of disease. If you’re sick, it’s very important that people stay at home. If your children are sick, have a fever and flu-like illness, they shouldn’t go to school. And if you’re ill, you shouldn’t get on an airplane or another public transport to travel. Those things are part of personal responsibility in trying to reduce the impact.

Though most of the instructions are similar to traditional flu season precautions, Besser also suggested the public start thinking ahead about a scenario if the outbreak ramps up in their community: “It’s time for people to be thinking – forward-thinking about, well, if it were my child’s school, what would I do, how would I be prepared for that kind of an event. We view the public as partners in the efforts to try and control what’s going on.” 

The full transcript of the briefing can be found here. To get the latest news as well as advice on the ongoing situation, follow the CDC Emergency Preparedness Twitter feed here or the CDC’s Swine Flu website here. A CDC/Health and Human Services Swine Flu widget is below. If you want to imbed it in your website, click on the “Get It Now” link.





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