History shows that flu pandemics happen three or four times each century. The last one was in 1968. No one knows where the next one will start, when or how deadly it will be. But we know that it will likely happen. Knowing this, it is wise to prepare.
A flu pandemic will disrupt daily life. Sickness, or the fear of getting sick, might cause people to stay away from work.
Transportation – local and long distance – could be reduced. Grocery stores, pharmacies, and banks might have shortages. Schools and daycare centres could be forced to close. Public events might be cancelled.
A flu pandemic will test the health system to the limit. Medical clinics, emergency rooms, and hospitals will be overwhelmed. Until it happens, we don’t know who would be most affected. In the 1918 pandemic, young, healthy people were the worst affected.
The Government of Canada has been planning for a flu pandemic since 1983.
Canada is part of a worldwide network of experts who monitor flu outbreaks in animals and humans. They watch out for deadly strains and try to stop the spread of outbreaks.
Canada is building a supply of antiviral drugs to treat pandemic flu and will produce a vaccine to protect Canadians. When the pandemic starts, it will take at least three months to develop the vaccine. It will likely go to essential workers first then the public.
Across Canada, public health workers are informing people about the risk of a flu pandemic and how to prepare for it. Our governments, hospitals, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, supermarkets, businesses and other organizations are developing plans.
Planning for a pandemic is a huge and complex task. For Canada to be ready, we must all do our part. In our communities, at work, and in our homes, we need to plan our response. You can begin by learning how to prevent the spread of the flu, prepare for emergencies, and protect your health in a flu pandemic.
For more information, go to www.pandemie.cpha.ca or call 1-800-454-8302.
A message from the Canadian Public Health Association.