Preparing for a Flu Pandemic

What a Flu Pandemic Means to You

Preparing vaccines
What you can do to get ready for a flu pandemic. Rafe Swan/Cultura/Getty Images

Do you know what to do in the case of a flu pandemic? Most people alive today have never seen a true global outbreak of a disease like the flu. The last major flu pandemic was in 1918, and it killed millions of people. While the thought of that seems pretty much incomprehensible today, it could still happen.

While getting a flu shot every year is a great way to prevent the flu, it may not help in a flu pandemic situation.

When a pandemic occurs, the strain of flu will be severe and spread rapidly. It may be difficult to produce a vaccine for that particular strain quickly enough to immunize people against it. This is exactly what occurred during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Although that did not turn out to be as severe as it could have been, vaccines initially were ineffective and it took months to develop on that would protect against the new strain of the virus. That is why it is important to take other measures to protect ourselves against a flu pandemic now.

Prepare Yourself and Your Family

So what should we be doing? There are a few simple steps that we can all take to be sure we are prepared for a flu pandemic:

Keep clean

Washing your hands is the single best way to prevent the spread of any type of infection. Make sure you do it properly and often. Other simple ways to prevent the spread of infection include using a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and staying away from people who are sick.

More Flu Prevention Tips

Stock up on supplies

There is a high likelihood that normal life could be disrupted in a true pandemic, so making sure you have a two-week supply of food, water and medical supplies for your family is important. In a true pandemic situation, many people could be sick, causing schools, businesses and public transportation to be closed or disrupted, limiting your ability to purchase new (and necessary) items.

Know your community's plan

Many cities and communities, and even schools and businesses, have plans in place for a flu pandemic or other public health emergencies. Knowing the plan ahead of time helps everything run more smoothly and ensures you won't be caught not knowing what to do in case of an emergency.

Although the possibility of a flu pandemic may be hard to imagine, it is one that is very real we should prepare for it now. To learn more, the CDC has provided some great information about how to prepare for a flu pandemic and what your state is already doing.


"Pandemic Influenza and You Planning Tips." 13 Mar 07. US Department of Health & Human Services. 16 Sep 07.

"Community Measures Prevent Deaths During Pandemic, New Study Finds." CDC Press Release 07 Aug 07. US Department of Health & Human Services. 16 Sep 07.

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