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Pandemic Influenza and Seasonal Influenza

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About Pandemics

A pandemic is a disease outbreak that has spread worldwide.  The number of people affected by a pandemic depends upon how severe the pandemic is. Pandemics are generally classified by severity level:  mild, moderate, or severe.

About Influenza Pandemics

Influenza pandemic (pandemic flu) occurs when a new type of influenza (flu) virus emerges, affecting the health and lives of many people.  As a serious respiratory illness, pandemic flu spreads quickly from person to person because people have not been exposed to the new flu strain.  Once exposed, Individuals may have little or no bodily resistance for fighting off the new, contagious type of flu.  Historical examples of pandemic flu include the “Spanish flu” of 1918, “Asian flu” of 1957, and “Hong Kong flu” of 1968, and, currently, the 2009 H1N1 flu.

Seasonal Flu Versus Pandemic Flu

Seasonal flu is the more common type of flu, emerging each year during the fall, winter, and spring months.  Seasonal flu continually circulates among people during each flu season, changing slightly from year to year.  Because of seasonal flu’s continual presence among people, individuals are more likely to have acquired some bodily resistance, allowing them to fight off this flu strain better.  FWBCHD and other health organizations offer seasonal flu vaccinations annually to protect people from this changing virus.

Seasonal flu and pandemic flu are both influenza viruses, affecting the upper respiratory system of people.  As a new type of virus, however, pandemic flu spreads quickly from person to person, and can produce serious illness, usually significantly more severe than seasonal flu.

Seasonal and Pandemic Flu - Protecting Yourself & Others

In instances of severe pandemic influenza up to 30 - 40% of our population could experience illness and others may choose to stay home, caring for sick family and friends.  Learn how to protect yourself and others from seasonal and pandemic flu by accessing the Flu.gov website below. 

Vaccine Development & Distribution Processes/Guidelines

In times of pandemics and other public health emergencies, FWBCHD shall provide vaccine to citizens.  Before local vaccination campaigns can begin, however, several factors influence when local health departments receive and then dispense vaccine.

Factors influencing vaccine receipt and dispensing:

  • Length of time to develop an effective vaccine.  It takes several months to analyze the new flu strain, then develop and test vaccine.
  • Length of time to manufacture vaccine, once an effective vaccine has been developed.  Initially quantities of vaccine will be limited.  As more vaccine is produced over time, more vaccine will consequently become available at the local level.  On average it takes between 4-6 months, but could be longer, to develop a new vaccine 
  • Local health departments rely on Federal and State vaccine distribution systems.  As vaccine becomes available, the CDC allocates vaccine among all states.  As a result, each state will then use their respective state distribution plans to distribute vaccine to be received locally.
  • Once vaccine is received locally, FWBCHD follows vaccine dispensing guidance outlined by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) and The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).  Since initial quantities will most likely be limited, vaccinations will probably have to be prioritized, providing protection first for those designated most at risk for serious illness.  FWBCHD will follow the recommendations of the ACIP and CDC in their health department vaccination clinics.
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