A pandemic of influenza, or flu, is when a new flu virus spreads from human to human and country to country in a short period of time. A new virus would be able to spread quickly because most people would not have any immunity. Vaccines may not be available right away until experts get a chance to study and identify the new virus.
Pandemics are not just bad flu seasons. In fact, they are not seasonal at all, they can happen at any time of the year and are naturally-occurring. There have been three pandemics in the last 100 years. Each one caused worldwide illness and death. The CDC has more information on the history of Pandemic flu.
What can I do to prevent getting the flu?
During a pandemic, it will take about 4-6 months to develop and deliver a new vaccine. Here are some things you can do to help prevent the flu from spreading:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
- Cover coughs and sneezes
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects
- Stay home if you are sick
- Avoid close contact with other people (keep a distance of at least 10 feet)
If you get the flu, stay home! You want to avoid spreading the flu virus to others. If someone in your family or household gets sick, make sure you know how to give the best care:
Local officials may also close schools or cancel public events to prevent more people from getting sick. For more information about how to prepare your school, workplace, or event for pandemic flu, check out the CDC website.
To locate flu vaccine in your area please call, or go to vaccine.healthmap.org.