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Pandemic Preparedness and the Private Sector. Vicki Bier (and Ad Hoc Pandemic Planning Committee) April 7, 2006. National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza (November 2005). “Responsibilities of the U.S. private sector and critical infrastructure entities include…

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Pandemic preparedness and the private sector

Pandemic Preparedness and the Private Sector

Vicki Bier (and Ad Hoc Pandemic Planning Committee)

April 7, 2006

National strategy for pandemic influenza november 2005
National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza (November 2005)

  • “Responsibilities of the U.S. private sector and critical infrastructure entities include…

    • Establishing an ethic of infection control in the workplace…

    • Establishing contingency systems to maintain delivery of essential goods and services…

    • Establishing mechanisms to allow workers to provide services from home…

    • Establishing partnerships with other members of the sector to provide mutual support…”

Numerous unmet needs
Numerous unmet needs

  • Private sector

  • Non-profit service providers

  • Childcare centers, informal providers

  • Public schools

  • Underserved populations

  • Labor issues/income continuation

  • Utility companies/critical infrastructure

  • Insurance

  • Press/media

Survey on avian flu watson wyatt march 2006
Survey on Avian Flu (Watson Wyatt, March 2006)

  • “Companies are much more likely to already have plans in place (32 percent) in Asia-Pacific to deal with the effects of the avian flu”:

    • 15 percent in the United States

    • 11 percent in Europe

    • 10 percent in Canada

    • 9 percent in Latin America

  • “One in five companies is not at all concerned”

Biosecurity and bioterrorism vol 3 no 4

  • “State governments and the private sector…will bear the lion’s share of the burdens of designing and executing most aspects of pandemic response”

    • (Commentary, pp. 292-294)

  • “Go figure…” (Nuzzo and D’Esopo, pp. 368-369)

    • “Amount proposed…for pandemic influenza”: $100 million

    • “Cost of one F-22 jet fighter”: $200 million

    • “Influenza pandemic that could be contained”: 20 people

    • “The size of the SARS epidemic when WHO was first notified”: 300 people

    • “Sentinel physicians in Europe”: 28 per million Europeans

    • “Sentinel physicians in the U.S.”: 3.4 per million Americans

    • “Healthcare workers with direct patient contact…advised to receive influenza vaccination”: 100%

    • “Healthcare workers with direct patient contact who got their yearly seasonal flu shots”: 35.7%

Education needs
Education needs

  • What would a pandemic look like?

  • What could be economic consequences? (bottom line, economy as a whole)

  • What would be psychological impacts? (communicating risk to employees)

  • Basic safety measures (masks, gloves, …)

  • The wide range of possible scenarios


  • Address lack of baseline understanding:

    • “Influenza 101”

  • What can I do now to be prepared?

  • What do I do in the first wave?

  • What do I do if it lasts a long time?

  • Uncertainty about possible scenarios

  • Awareness versus solutions

Critical functions
Critical functions

  • An organization’s critical functions may not be the same as its core functions:

    • Care and feeding of lab animals (versus education of students)

    • Information technology (to work from home)

    • Physical site security (if operations close)

Needs will vary by sector
Needs will vary by sector

  • Some sectors need to continue operating:

    • E.g., food distribution and retail

  • Some will see a dramatic drop in demand:

    • E.g., hospitality and travel

  • Some will see an increase in demand:

    • E.g., medical supplies

  • Partnerships with other sectors may be the most useful…

Employee needs also vary
Employee needs also vary

  • In some cases, needs are well aligned:

    • Groceries need to continue operating

    • Grocery workers need their paychecks

  • In other cases, needs are not well aligned:

    • Nurses are critical employees, but may find it difficult to work when schools are closed

    • Hospitality workers are not critical employees, but need to continue receiving paychecks

Uncertainty about scenarios
Uncertainty about scenarios

  • There is no one-size-fits-all answer

  • Individual circumstances differ by sector

  • Few if any definitive recommendations:

    • If we tell people to hold extra inventory, pandemic may not hit for several years

  • Businesses to make their own decisions:

    • A sample emergency plan is available at

Planning checklists
Planning Checklists


  • “Plan for the impact of a pandemic on your business:

    • Identify a pandemic coordinator and/or team…

    • Identify essential employees and other critical inputs…

    • Train and prepare ancillary workforce…

    • Plan for…an increase or decrease in demand…

    • Determine potential impact on…business financials…

    • Find up-to-date, reliable pandemic information…

    • Implement an exercise/drill to test your plan…”

Planning checklists1
Planning Checklists

  • “Plan for the impact of a pandemic on your employees and customers:

    • Forecast and allow for employee absences…

    • Modify the frequency of…face-to-face contact…

    • Encourage and track annual influenza vaccination…

    • Evaluate…mental health and social services…

    • Identify employees and key customers with special needs…”

Planning checklists2
Planning Checklists

  • “Establish policies to be implemented during a pandemic…:

    • Employee compensation and sick-leave absences…

    • Flexible worksite…and flexible work hours

    • Preventing influenza spread at the worksite…

    • Employees who have been exposed to pandemic influenza…

    • Restricting travel to affected geographic areas…

    • Activating and terminating the company’s response plan…”

Planning checklists3
Planning Checklists

  • “Allocate resources to protect your employees and customers during a pandemic…:

    • Accessible infection control supplies…

    • Communications and information technology infrastructures…

    • Availability of medical consultation and advice…”

Planning checklists4
Planning Checklists

  • “Communicate to and educate your employees:

    • Disseminate programs and materials…

    • Anticipate employee fear and anxiety, rumors and misinformation…

    • Ensure that communications are…culturally appropriate…

    • Disseminate information to employees about your pandemic preparedness and response plan…

    • Provide information for the at-home care of ill employees and family members…

    • Develop platforms…for communicating pandemic status…

    • Identify community sources for…information…”

Planning checklists5
Planning Checklists

  • “Coordinate with external organizations and help your community…:

    • Insurers, health plans, and major local healthcare facilities…

    • Federal, state, and local public health agencies…

    • Assets and/or services your business could contribute…

    • Share best practices with other businesses…”