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Pandemic Flu Committee formed Print E-mail

The Oregon Department of Education's (ODE) Pandemic Flu Planning Committee met for the first time this week and began initial work to assist local school districts trying to develop plans to deal with what could be a catastrophic flu season next school year.

Three pandemics have occurred in the 20th Century – 1918, 1957 and 1968. The current statewide flu plan being developed by state and county public health agencies assumes a “moderate” scenario in which 35% of the population becomes ill in a series of outbreaks that last six or more weeks. Under the scenario of 3.6 million Oregonians, 12,000 will require hospitalization and nearly 3,000 would die. No effective vaccine will be available at the onset of the pandemic.

If the pandemic occurs, Oregon State Public Health will be the lead state agency and will coordinate with the Oregon Emergency Management Agency, local county health departments and American Indian tribal health services. Plans now are for a full-scale exercise statewide to be held in November 2006.

No plan currently exists for Oregon’s K-12 schools. A model flu plan with preparation checklists is available.

School representatives asked a series of questions regarding local and state authority and responsibility as well as prevention measures. Local authority will reside with local county health officers.

ODE is doing its own planning dealing with a range of issues including continued operation of the department with a substantial part of its workforce home ill. Joyce Dougherty at ODE is chairing the committee.

This page was last updated on Wednesday, May 24, 2006 .