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February 6, 2008

Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Community Resiliency

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Florida Department of Health, Tallahassee.

JAMA. 2008;299(5):566-568. doi:10.1001/jama.299.5.566

Weathering a future pandemic of influenza will be a challenge unlike anything experienced in the United States since 1918. A unique strength of the country has been the sharing of common goals and aspirations. Drawing on strong ethnic identities that celebrate diversity and respect for heritage, when faced with crises, individuals throughout the United States have protected each other because of this common bond.

Responding to a future influenza pandemic will test loyalties to families, friends, neighborhoods, and communities. As planning for the national response to pandemic influenza continues, it is essential to protect against adverse, unintended consequences that could seriously threaten the fabric of US society. There has been a major shift in public health advice regarding influenza,1-7 and current national pandemic influenza planning advocates that individuals will be able to prevent influenza infection by modifying personal behaviors. Decreased person-to-person contact is recommended as an effective strategy to prevent infection.4,6,7 This new advice is based on limited current scientific evidence and could have serious adverse unintended consequences for the social fabric of society and community resiliency.4-9