You may have noticed the increase in Web sites, government plans and information in recent months responding to the threat of pandemic influenza. The threat is a real one, and it's great that the U.S. government has made the issue a priority. But most of the federal information out there is too wordy and not written for average Americans.
To test the influenza planning materials that are available now, we asked our friends and families to check out some of the government sites. The findings weren't surprising: our testers couldn't understand most of it, nor figure out how to apply it to themselves. For example, materials on the government sites contain checklists and lists of items to stockpile in case of a flu pandemic, but no specifics. How much bottled water and canned food should a family of four stockpile? Should diabetics and those with heart conditions hesitate to eat stockpiled food if they have high salt content? Should they take nutritional supplements instead? None of these answers are available.
Additionally, government sites are so over-packed with information that it can become overwhelming. Web users have to download large PDF files and wade through miles of documents. And what about those who don't have access to the Web?
Government plans for pandemic flu preparedness also have a flaw in that they rely on individuals, families and communities to have their own flu plans in place, and expect them to have a full stockpile of goods for the foreseeable future. Good idea, but the major question is: HOW?
To help address some of those questions, APHA is launching the "Get Ready For Flu" blog. The blog will be a discussion forum on pandemic influenza, where the public can come and learn about pandemic flu and share their comments on the issue. Most importantly, we want this to be a venue for people who are looking for real advice on how to prepare for flu.
In coming posts, the APHA "Get Ready For Flu" blog will feature discussions on how to prepare your home, business and community for a flu pandemic or other emerging infectious disease threat. We will also include discussions on how to understand and apply recommendations from global, federal, state and local government sources. Upcoming topics will include egg and chicken safety, cats and avian flu and the availability of vaccines.
The APHA "Get Ready For Flu" blog is being written by APHA in consultation with experts and using the best science available. (Click here and here for more information on the APHA Flu Team.) It is being published in conjunction with APHA's new "Get Ready" campaign that will help Americans prepare for a pandemic of influenza or other emerging infectious diseases.
We will be posting information and commentary on the blog as things develop on influenza, so check back weekly. We look forward to hearing your thoughts and concerns and starting a public discussion on preparing for pandemic flu. This is your chance to get involved and make a difference on this emerging public health issue. Let's get ready!