HHS.gov Archive

News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, Jan. 12, 2006

Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343

New Checklist Helps Faith-Based and Community Organizations Prepare for an Influenza Pandemic

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt today announced the release of the “Faith-Based and Community Organizations Pandemic Influenza Checklist.” This tool provides guidance for religious organizations, social service agencies that are faith-based and community organizations to plan for the impact of a pandemic on their organization and mission.

“The collaboration of faith-based and community organizations with public health agencies will be important in protecting the public if and when a pandemic occurs,” Secretary Leavitt said. “These organizations provide vital support services and can help build awareness of the pandemic influenza threat. By working together now, we’ll be better equipped to serve communities in the future.”

The new checklist identifies steps faith-based and community organizations can take to prepare for a pandemic and could be helpful in other types of emergencies. The checklist was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and preparedness suggestions include:

  • Determine the potential impact of a pandemic on usual activities and how it might alter the delivery of services;
  • Consider the organization’s role in stopping rumors, misinformation, fear and anxiety;
  • Advise staff, members and communities they serve to follow information provided by public health authorities;
  • Evaluate access to mental health and social services during a pandemic;
  • Identify persons with special needs served by the organization such as the elderly, disabled and people with limited English language skills, ensure their needs are included in the response plan; and
  • Evaluate the organization’s usual activities and services including rites and religious practices if applicable to identify those that could facilitate virus spread from person to person; set policies to modify those activities to prevent the spread of pandemic influenza.

Secretary Leavitt released the guide at Pandemic Planning Summits in Vermont and West Virginia with state officials and community leaders today. These summits are the latest in a series of forums that will be convened in each state over the next few months.

The release of this new tool builds on the Administration’s overall planning to increase pandemic preparedness. President Bush has outlined a coordinated government strategy that includes the establishment of the new International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza, stockpiling of vaccines and antiviral medications, expansion of early-warning systems domestically and abroad and new funding and initiatives for local and state level preparedness.

In December, Secretary Leavitt met with senior officials from all 50 states and launched a series of preparedness summits to be held in every state over the next several months with the goal of enhancing state and local preparedness. In addition to today’s checklist, Secretary Leavitt has issued preparedness checklists for individuals and families, businesses, and state and local health departments to aid their pandemic preparedness efforts.

A copy of the “Faith-Based and Community Organizations Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Checklist,” other checklists and pandemic planning information is available online at www.pandemicflu.gov.

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Last revised: January 12, 2006