An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza A virus emerges that is unlike past influenza viruses and for which there is little or no immunity in the human population. The virus spreads easily from person-to-person and a worldwide outbreak occurs.
Vaccination is the best protection against contracting the flu; however, it may take 6 months or longer for a vaccine to a new virus to be available. Practicing simple, but important, good health habits can reduce the spread of germs and can help protect against flu.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If hand washing is not possible, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with tissue, or cough and sneeze into your upper sleeve.
- Don't share items such as food, utensils, beverage containers, toys, or anything else that might be contaminated with germs.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- See your health care provider as soon as you can if you have a cough and a fever, and follow their instructions, including taking medicine as prescribed and getting rest.
- Limit your contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
- Minimize your exposure to potentially ill people as much as possible. During a flu pandemic, this may mean avoiding large social gatherings and events, such as concerts, movie theaters, and sports venues.
Resources for Individuals and Families
Plan Now to be Ready
Family Planning Guide
Family Guide to Home Care
Cover Your Cough
From Flu.gov, a US Department of Health and Human Services website:
Pandemic Influenza Preparedness
Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist (in multiple languages)
Facemask and Respirator Use
Resources for Businesses
Childcare and Preschool Planning Checklist
School District Checklist
Colleges and Universities Checklist
Hospital Preparedness Checklist
Faith-Based and Community Organizations Checklist
What Employers Can Do to Protect Workers Fact Sheet
Protect Yourself in the Workplace
From Flu.gov, a US Department of Health and Human Services website
Take the Lead: Pandemic Flu Outbreak Preparedness Toolkit
Resources for Professionals
Guidance for School Administrators
Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic
Considerations for Antiviral Drug Stockpiling by Employers