Fairfax County Coordinates Pandemic Flu Planning

Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
703-324-3187, TTY 711, FAX 703-324-2010

March 21, 2006

Fairfax County Coordinates Pandemic Flu Planning

Fairfax County is taking a coordinated approach to planning for pandemic flu – a global outbreak of a novel strain of influenza with efficient human-to-human transmission. County pandemic flu planners are working to produce a plan by the summer of 2006 that will supplement the county’s emergency operations plan, and remain flexible as information is added or changed.

“Planning for pandemic flu is not just a government issue. It is important that residents understand their individual responsibility to prepare themselves and their families for pandemic flu,” said Gloria Addo-Ayensu, M.D., Fairfax County health director.

The county’s effort began in fall 2005, and involves numerous county agencies, the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, the towns of Herndon and Vienna, as well as private sector groups and partner organizations.  County planning initiatives are being undertaken in accordance with the emergency plans of the Virginia Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization. In addition, county officials are involved with National Capital region efforts being led by the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments.

Deputy County Executives Rob Stalzer and Verdia Haywood co-chair the county’s Pandemic Flu Executive Team. The executive team provides guidance to the county’s Emergency Management Coordinating Council (the leadership team), which oversees two coordinating committee work groups: the Public Health Coordinating Committee and the Critical Infrastructure and Resource Management Coordinating Committee. The county’s planning efforts include representatives from approximately 30 county agencies.

The Public Health Coordinating Committee, co-chaired by Addo-Ayensu, and Raja’a Satouri, M.D., also of the Fairfax County Health Department, includes eight public health work groups. These work groups are organized based on topic areas such as community and disease prevention, laboratory and surveillance, first responders and mass casualty, and essential needs.

The Critical Infrastructure and Resource Management Coordinating Committee, chaired by Doug Bass, coordinator of Emergency Management, and Merni Fitzgerald, director of the Office of Public Affairs, will address critical infrastructure such as public works, transportation, schools, information technology, human resources and utilities as well as private sector critical infrastructure and pandemic flu planning.

Fairfax County is also planning a pandemic flu town meeting to be held on Tuesday, April 18, at 7 p.m. in the Board Auditorium of the Fairfax County Government Center, located at 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax. Residents are encouraged to attend to learn more about pandemic flu and the county’s planning.

Hand washing is the most important – and simplest – action everyone can take to help prevent the spread of many germs that make people sick. Washing hands frequently would significantly reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses such as the flu and pertussis; diseases such as pink-eye and hepatitis A; and gastro-intestinal illnesses like norovirus and salmonella. Studies have shown that vigilant hand washing can reduce illnesses in communities by up to 50 percent. The proper way to wash hands is with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, scrubbing all parts of the hands, especially under fingernails and the nail beds. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used when soap and water is not available, however, hand sanitizers should not be a replacement for proper hand washing.

Information about pandemic flu and additional resources are available on the Fairfax County Health Department Web page at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/hd, as well as the CDC Pandemic Flu Web page at www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic and the official U.S. government Web site for information on pandemic flu, www.pandemicflu.gov.

For more information about Fairfax County’s pandemic flu planning initiative, contact the Fairfax County Health Department at 703-246-2411, TTY 703-591-6435

To request this information in an alternate format, call the Office of Public Affairs at 703-324-3187, TTY 711.

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