April 10, 2006
Public health director addresses pandemic flu preparedness and response
Macon County Health Department outlines its pandemic planning efforts
DECATUR, Ill. – Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, visited Decatur today for the Family Values Luncheon, but also to talk about Illinois’ preparedness for a pandemic flu outbreak and to learn about preparations the Macon County Health Department has taken to respond to a local emergency.
“The state of Illinois is working diligently to make sure we are prepared to handle a pandemic flu outbreak or terrorist act. Local health departments will play a major role in the response to such an event and it is important we communicate with them and know they are prepared,” said Dr. Whitaker.
The Illinois Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan is a framework for Illinois to stop, slow or otherwise limit the spread of an influenza pandemic, sustain infrastructure, mitigate the impact to the economy and reduce social disruption. It provides state government with a set of preparedness activities and response functions. The plan also provides local health departments, health care provider systems and first responder organizations with preparedness and response expectations.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) held the first of three pandemic flu tabletop exercises in March. Along with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the Illinois Department of Agriculture, IDPH discussed command decision making for issues such as availability and distribution of vaccine and antiviral medications; a priority system for who would receive the limited quantity of vaccinations and antivirals; the need for doctors, nurses and medical equipment; other facilities to house the sick that will be needed when the hospitals are full; and many other issues. IDPH also will conduct tabletop exercises on May 11 and May 18 th to further address these issues. IEMA has held other pandemic flu tabletop exercises and will conduct a full-scale, statewide exercise the first week of May in which IDPH will participate.
Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich hosted the Illinois’ Pandemic Influenza Readiness Summit last month and heard from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt and state officials about pandemic influenza planning and preparedness.
After Dr. Whitaker talked about the state’s preparedness, the Macon County Health Department presented its pandemic flu response efforts and discussed local efforts surrounding vaccines, antiviral agents, antibiotics, medical supplies, medical facilities, health care workers, first responders, food shortages and personnel who provide essential services in the event of an outbreak.
Dr. Whitaker has made a point of visiting as many health departments as he can. He has been to at least 36 health departments, from the Southern Seven Health Department, which covers Alexander, Hardin, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski and Union counties to the Chicago Health Department. Some departments, like Macon County, he has been to more than once.
For more information:
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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