Planning for Pandemic Flu

What to Expect

Influenza pandemics happen every few decades. They occur in multiple waves of disease outbreaks over a period of a year or longer. Each wave can last six to 12 weeks. Every flu pandemic is different and it is impossible to predict its full impact until the virus starts circulating. However, we do know that it is likely to cause significant illness in a large number of people, as well as many deaths.

A flu pandemic will disrupt the daily lives of many people. Health care and other services will be strained; and businesses and schools might have to close. There may be restrictions on public gatherings and travel. Essential government services (including water, power and sanitation) could be disrupted. To limit the spread of disease in the community, public health officials may implement isolation (separating those who are sick from those who are healthy) and quarantine (separating and restricting movement of persons who are not yet ill but have been exposed and therefore may become infectious). Isolation and quarantine may be voluntary or mandatory through legal authority.

Fairfax County Response Plan

To lessen the potential impact of a flu pandemic on our community, Fairfax County Government has worked with community partners to develop a comprehensive plan to respond quickly. Community partners include schools, the medical community, businesses, nonprofits and faith-based organizations. The Fairfax County Pandemic Influenza Response Plan  provides a guide for county government on how to prepare and respond during and after a flu pandemic.

The goals of the plan are to:

  • Contain and control disease outbreak.
  • Limit the number of illnesses and deaths n Continue and preserve critical government functions.
  • Minimize social disruptions.
  • Minimize economic losses.

Individual and Family Preparedness

  • Make a Family Plan
  • Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them at home.
  • Have a backup caregiver for loved ones.
  • Plan ahead for childcare if schools and childcare programs close.
  • Ask your employer about sick leave and telecommuting policies.
  • Keep emergency numbers and this guide in a place where everyone in the household can access them.

  • Plan for possible disruption in health care services, transportation, banks, stores, utilities and government offices.
  • Agree on plans with other family members, friends and neighbors ahead of time.

Prepare Your Home

  • Store a two-week supply of water and food in your home. Store ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables, beans and soups; protein or fruit bars; dry cereal or granola; peanut butter; nuts; dried fruit; crackers; canned or boxed juices; bottled water; canned or jarred baby food and formula; pet food.
  • Ask your doctor and insurance company about getting an extra supply of prescription medications.
  • Depending on your medical needs, store health and medical supplies such as a digital thermometer, glucose and blood pressure monitoring equipment, pain and fever relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, and fluids with electrolytes, such as sports drinks and pediatric rehydration fluids.
  • Other health and emergency supplies to have on hand include soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizer, flashlights, batteries, portable radio, manual can opener, garbage bags, tissues, paper towels, toilet paper and disposable diapers.


Stay Informed

  • Sign up for Fairfax County’s Community Emergency Alert Network (CEAN) to receive up-to-the minute notifications about emergencies in the area at

Messages will be delivered to all devices that you register, including e-mail, cell phone, text, pager, satellite phone and wireless PDA. For more information, call Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management at 571-350-1000, TTY 711.

  • For more information about pandemic preparedness, visit:
    • Fairfax County’s Flu Web page,
    • Fairfax County Health Department,
    • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

  • Call the Fairfax County Government EmergencyInformation Line for updated recordedmessages at 703-817-7771, TTY 711.

  • Additional information is available on FairfaxCounty Cable Channel 16.

Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Technical Questions: Web Administrator

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