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Pandemic Preparedness Experts

Pandemic Preparedness Experts
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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query flu. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query flu. Sort by date Show all posts

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Flu: A Compensable Event and Its Complications

Source: US CDC Reports widespread flu activity

For the first time in more than a decade, the seasonal flu is becoming a pandemic  that is causing major business disruptions, and illness and death in the workplace. Despite urgent calls from public health officials and declarations of states of emergency, the flu continues to aversely effect businesses and employees throughout the country.

The laxity amongst employers and employees in getting flu vaccinations, a lack of paid sick days, a shortage of medicine to treat the flu and consequences occurring because of poorly designed vaccination programs, may stretch the nations workers' compensation system to new limits.

Step One
Take time to get a flu vaccine like this young boy from an older female nurse.

Take time to get a flu vaccine.

  • CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
  • While there are many different flu viruses, a flu vaccine protects against the three viruses that research suggests will be most common. (See upcoming season’s Vaccine Virus Selection for this season’s vaccine composition.)
  • Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine as soon as thecurrent season's vaccines are available.
  • Vaccination of high risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness.
  • People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children,pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.
  • Vaccination also is important for health care workers, and other people who live with or care for high risk people to keep from spreading flu to high risk people.
  • Children younger than 6 months are at high risk of serious flu illness, but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for them should be vaccinated instead.
Step Two

Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs like this mother teaching her young child to wash hands.

Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
  • See Everyday Preventive Actions Adobe PDF file [257 KB, 2 pages] andNonpharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) for more information about actions – apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine – that people and communities can take to help slow the spread of illnesses like influenza (flu).
Step Three

Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them like this older woman listening to her doctor.

Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

  • If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can treat your illness.
  • Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter.
  • Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For people with high risk factors Adobe PDF file [702 KB, 2 pages], treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.
  • Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 2 days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high-risk health or is very sick from the flu. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking this drug.
  • Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu, and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.

Read more sbout the "flu" and workers' compensation:

Oct 23, 2012
Laboratory Workers and Contacts Warned of Accidental Flu Pandemic. Safety in the laboratory workplace is of critical concern as many research laboratory employees suffer from exotic diseases that become workers' ...
 
Oct 24, 2009
As the US flu vaccination program rolls out, the numbers are also growing for those who have reported adverse consequences from the H1N1 vaccine. The victims and their families are also lining up for benefits available in ...
 
Nov 27, 2009
The OSGA directive closely follows the prevention guidance issue by The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to prevent the spread of H1N1 flu. The purpose of the compliance directive is "to ensure uniform procedures when ...
 
Sep 15, 2009
The 2009 influenza pandemic (flu) has created a new framework of acts and regulations to respond the World Health Organization's (WHO) phase 6 pandemic alert. Governmentally imposed employment disruptions resulting ...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Aerial spraying pesticides to fight mosquitoes raises concerns over compensability for exposures

Based on reports from the  United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) arial spraying of pesticides has been mandated in Texas because of the number of reported cases of West Nile Flu. Questions are now being raised as to the availability of workers' compensation benefits for workers who suffer illnesses flowing from the consequences of pesticide exposures.

The arial spraying of Dallas County commenced last night  with two planes being utilized, and will be continuing over the next few evenings in order to battle the mosquito population that is spreading the disease. The population is being requested to remain indoors to avoid exposure.

The state of Texas is not the only area in the United States where West Nile Flu is now spreading and preventive measures are being taken to stem the potential of an epidemic of illness. Throughout United States during 2012 there has been an increase in the amount of cases it being reported. See the CDC map above.

In most jurisdictions, workers' compensation benefits are available as a result of occupational exposures. There is the potential for a surge of claims as the network of benefits programs remains unprepared, especially in its beleaguered state. More preparation needs to be undertaken to handle such potential consequences such as a West Nile epidemic.

Read other blog posts about flu

Sep 15, 2009
The 2009 influenza pandemic (flu) has created a new framework of acts and regulations to respond the World Health Organization's (WHO) phase 6 pandemic alert. Governmentally imposed employment disruptions resulting...
Oct 24, 2009
As the US flu vaccination program rolls out, the numbers are also growing for those who have reported adverse consequences from the H1N1 vaccine. The victims and their families are also lining up for benefits available in ...
Apr 24, 2009
The CDC has reported that Swine flu has impacted the US in the past: "Like seasonal flu, swine flu in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe. Between 2005 until January 2009, 12 human cases of swine flu were ...
Nov 27, 2009
The OSGA directive closely follows the prevention guidance issue by The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to prevent the spread of H1N1 flu. The purpose of the compliance directive is "to 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Study: working-age adults more susceptible to severe flu

Today's post is shared from cidrap.umn.edu

Working-age adults who have diabetes are more susceptible to severe flu infections, according to a study from University of Alberta researchers who published their findings in Diabetologia. The group's goal was to compare flu levels in adults with and without the disease to help fill in knowledge gaps that underlie vaccination recommendations.

The team cohort study used data from Manitoba, Canada, from 2000 to 2008. All working-age adults were identified and paired with two nondiabetic controls.

Researchers looked at clinic visits, hospitalizations for pneumonia and flu, and all-cause hospitalization. Their analysis included 745,777 person-years of follow-up among 166,715 subjects. Those who had diabetes were more likely to be vaccinated against flu.

People with diabetes had a 6% (relative risk 1.06, 95% confidence interval 1.02 to 1.10; absolute risk difference 6 per 1,000 adults per year) greater increase in all-cause hospitalization linked to flu. However, researchers found no difference between the groups in the rates of flulike illness or pneumonia and influenza.

They concluded that the evidence is the strongest yet for targeting patients with diabetes for flu vaccination.
Jan 24 Diabetologia study

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Laboratory Workers and Contacts Warned of Accidental Flu Pandemic

Safety in the laboratory workplace is of critical concern as many research laboratory employees suffer from exotic diseases that become workers' compensation compensable events. Limited knowledge of the facts of the exposures creates yet another level of concern and  anxiety as employees attempt to cope with unusual symptomatology.

Authors Marc Lipsitch and Barry R. Bloom have authored an article appearing in the Journal of the American Society for Microbiology highlighting the potential for a pandemic.

"If accidentally released, mammalian-transmissible influenza A/H5N1 viruses could pose a greater threat to public health than possibly any other infectious agent currently under study in laboratories, because of such viruses’ likely combination of transmissibility and virulence to humans. We advocate explicit risk-benefit assessments before work on such pathogens is permitted or funded, improvement of biosafety practices and enforcement, and harmonization of criteria for permitting such experiments across government agencies, as well as internationally. Such potential pandemic pathogens, as they have been called, jeopardize not only laboratory workers and their contacts, but also the wider population, who should be involved in assessments of when such risks are acceptable in the service of scientific knowledge that may itself bear major public health benefits."

Lipsitch M, Bloom BR. 2012. Rethinking biosafety in research on potential pandemic pathogens. mBio 3(5):e00360-12. doi:10.1128/mBio.00360-12.

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For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman 1.973.696.7900 jon@gelmans.com have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered work related accident and injuries.

Read more about pandemics and workers' compensation
Sep 15, 2009
The 2009 influenza pandemic (flu) has created a new framework of acts and regulations to respond the World Health Organization's (WHO) phase 6 pandemic alert. Governmentally imposed employment disruptions resulting...
Apr 24, 2009
The Compensability of a Swine Flu Pandemic. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued an alert for the spread of human swine flu virus. Employers and employees will now need to be alerted to preparations and ...
Aug 14, 2009
Employer Responsibility in the Flu Pandemic. The threat of the spread of flu this fall in the US is a major concern to infectious disease specialists. Healthcare workers are extremely apprehensive as the disease is beginning to...
Apr 27, 2009
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) has emerged as the lead agency in directing a response to the potential swine flu pandemic. The agency is following a well defined plan published in 2005 to respond to ...

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Flu Is One Gift That We Don't Have To Keep On Giving For People With Cancer

Today's post was shared by CDC Cancer and comes from www.cancer.org


It's the holiday season, a time of reflection, celebration and for many, giving gifts. But there is at least one gift that no one wants to get, and certainly no one wants to give: the flu. And for people with cancer, and those they come in contact with, the flu can be a very serious event. For that reason and many more, people more than 6 months old-and especially those in contact with people who have serious illnesses like cancer-should get vaccinated against the flu.
Too many of us think the flu is a minor inconvenience. But that is almost certainly because we confuse the typical cold or upper respiratory infection, which usually means discomfort and maybe a day or two off work.  Influenza is a much different and much more dangerous animal, especially to people with chronic diseases.
Over time we have become somewhat immune to the messages about the dangers of the flu, now that we have vaccinations and medicines which can treat the illness. Few are alive who remember anything about the great influenza pandemic of 1918:
"The influenza of that season, however was far more than a cold...The flu was most deadly for people ages 20-40...It infected 28% of all Americans (Tice). An estimated 675,000 Americans died of influence during the pandemic, ten times as many as in the world war. Of the US soldiers who died in Europe, half of them fell to the influenza virus and not the enemy (Deseret News) An estimated 43,000 servicemen mobilized for WWI died of influenza...
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Friday, April 24, 2009

The Compensability of a Swine Flu Pandemic

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued an alert for the spread of human swine flu virus. Employers and employees will now need to be alerted to preparations and the reactions that may occur.

In preparation for a Smallpox epidemic, the US government, several years ago, issued rules concerning illness flowing from the distribution of smallpox vaccine. Now the focus will switch from not only compensable conditions flowing from preparation to compensable and contagious diseases in the workplace.

The federal government established a no-fault program entitled the Smallpox Emergency Personnel Protection Act of 2003 (SEPPA) in an effort to provide benefits and/or compensation to certain individuals, including health-care workers and emergency responders, who are injured as a result of the administration of smallpox countermeasures including the smallpox (vaccinia) vaccine. The Department of Health and Human Services, under rule making authority, established a vaccine injury table and procedural process for filing a request for benefits and/or compensation under the Program.

Already the CDC reported today, "Human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection have been identified in the U.S. in San Diego County and Imperial County, California as well as in San Antonio, Texas. Internationally, human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection have been identified in Mexico."

The CDC has reported that Swine flu has impacted the US in the past: "Like seasonal flu, swine flu in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe. Between 2005 until January 2009, 12 human cases of swine flu were detected in the U.S. with no deaths occurring. However, swine flu infection can be serious. In September 1988, a previously healthy 32-year-old pregnant woman in Wisconsin was hospitalized for pneumonia after being infected with swine flu and died 8 days later. A swine flu outbreak in Fort Dix, New Jersey occurred in 1976 that caused more than 200 cases with serious illness in several people and one death."

As new cases become suspect, concern will focuss on the spread of the disease in the workplace environment. Over 75 students are being tested in New York City. The Governor of California has issued an alert. As of now the Federal government is directing individuals to their local workers' compensation programs. Since a pandemic could be considered a challenge to Homeland Security, the federalization of prevention, treatment and compensation may ultimately result in expansion of a nationalization of the program.
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To read more about compensation for the flu click here.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Employer Responsibility in the Flu Pandemic

The threat of the spread of flu this fall in the US is a major concern to infectious disease specialists. Healthcare workers are extremely apprehensive as the disease is beginning to spread and employers have not instituted adequate protections for workers.

In the US alone there have been 6,506 hospitalizations of H1N1 Flu patients. The CDC has reported that there have been 436 reported to date because of the novel flu infection. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus a Phase-6 pandemic, the highest level of concern. Over 1,154 deaths have been reported worldwide.

The CDC has issued an Interim Guidance for controlling the spread of infection in healthcare facilities including hospitals, long-term care and outpatient facilities and other settings where healthcare is provided.

Healthcare workers have rallied to protest the firing of a co-worker who disclosed that a healthcare facility was not taken appropriate action to prevent the spread of flu at its work site. The major national unions in April 2009 warned in a report that employers were not taking adequate precautions to protect healthcare workers.

Most recently a task force of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) charged with the responsibility of making recommendations on how to protect workers from the H1N1 flu heard evidence that actions by employers could reduce the spread of the disease. It was reported the use of N95 masks provided 75% protection against lab-confirmed flu.

Workers' remedies from the residuals of the illness have now been limited. The Federal vaccination compensation program will shield the vaccine makers from liability claims. Employers will be protected against civil law suits by the exclusivity provisions of the workers' compensation system. Workers' Compensation does not encompass a roll in prevention of disease. OSHA has alerted employers to take action, but cannot compel them to do so.

It is time for employers to act to prevent unnecessary illness and death in the workplace. Simple educational and enforcement actions by employers will go along way to protect workers from the consequences of this unprecedented pandemic. While time is short and the clock is ticking away as the US flu season formally approaches, time still remains for employers to act and mandate protocols and procedures that will prevent the spread of the disease and will save lives.
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For more on workers compensation and the flu pandemic visit the Workers' Compensation Blog.




Sunday, December 15, 2013

Your Flu Shot is Waiting

Today's post was shared by RWJF PublicHealth and comes from www.rwjf.org

New reports from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 39 percent of adults and 41 percent of children six months and older got their flu shots for the 2013-2014 season by early November—a rate similar to flu vaccination coverage last season at the same time.
Other flu shot statistics of note this year include:
  • Vaccination among pregnant women (41 percent) and health care providers (63 percent) is about the same as it was this time last year
  • High rates were seen again this year among health care providers including pharmacists (90 percent), physicians (84 percent) and nurses (79 percent), but the CDC reported much lower vaccination rates among assistants or aides (49 percent) and health care providers working in long-term care facilities (53 percent)
“We are happy that annual flu vaccination is becoming a habit for many people, but there is still much room for improvement,” says Anne Schuchat, MD, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at CDC. “The bottom line is that influenza can cause a tremendous amount of illness and can be severe. Even when our flu vaccines are not as effective as we want them to be, they can reduce flu illnesses, doctors' visits, and flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.”
Seasonal influenza activity is increasing in parts of the United States. Further increases in influenza activity across the country are expected in the coming weeks. “If you have not...
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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Contagion in The Workplace: Ready or Not

The recent scientific announcement that scientists have developed an airborne strain of a highly contagious and deadly H5N1 flu virus brings to front burner the issue, once again, of whether the workers' compensation system is ready to respond effectively to a large spread viral  epidemic.

Whether the release is because of an unintentional act, or a terrorist attack, the workers' compensation system has not established a protocol for responding with urgent medical care and an elaborate and expedited medical delivery and benefit system.

Read more: Debate Persists on Deadly Flu Made Airborne (NY Times)

“This research should not have been done,” said Richard H. Ebright, a chemistry professor and bioweapons expert at Rutgers University who has long opposed such research. He warned that germs that could be used as bioweapons had already been unintentionally released hundreds of times from labs in the United States and predicted that the same thing would happen with the new virus.

“It will inevitably escape, and within a decade,” he said.

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Friday, February 12, 2021

Searching for Vaccine in NJ

NJ Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli COVID-19 provided a status report yesterday on the status of vaccine distribution in NJ. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Compensating Sick Workers at Home with H1N1 Flu



While the United States has established a national protocol to meet the medical challenges H1N1 flu pandemic, there remains a void on how to pay workers who are ill and have been encouraged by the government to stay home.  The litigious workers' compensation adversarial system may provide benefits ultimately for those who can demonstrate that their illness "arose out of and occurred in the course of the employment," after months, if not years, of delay. 


Some states have temporary disability programs, fraught with bureaucratic delay and red tape, while the issues of denial in the workers' compensation claims become identified. If held to be compensable, reimbursement is then sought by the temperate disability plan, public or private, 


The issues of a lack of an efficient wage replacement system for those workers affected by the H1N1 flu will be addressed by Congress shortly. The chorus of advocacy is increasing as this debate advances. The following is a recent post from the occupational-environmental mailing list setting forth a pretty persuading argument to establish a plan to pay sick workers with H1N1 flu.







Sick At Work

When the first cases of the H1N1 virus (swine flu) were confirmed in America back in April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that sick individuals stay home from work or school. "Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people," the CDC said."If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them." However, for many Americans, staying home from work due to illness -- or to care for a sick child -- is an impossibility because of a lack of job-protected paid sick days. In response to the threat posed by H1N1, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) has proposed legislation that would "guarantee five paid sick days to employees at businesses with 15 or more workers who are directed to stay home by management." However, Miller's plan sunsets in two years and gives employers, not employees, the right to decide when leave is taken. Plus, under Miller's plan, employees cannot use leave time to care for a sick child. The Healthy Families Act (HFA), which is also before Congress, would guarantee seven paid sick days per year to all workers at firms with 15 or more employees. "Paid sick days has always been a good, common sense idea, but, in light of the recent H1N1 epidemic, it has also become a necessary one," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), an HFA sponsor. "Right when more and more workers are feeling economically vulnerable and afraid to even miss one workday, we face an extraordinarily serious health risk that spreads much more quickly if the sick do not stay at home." Last week, the Obama administration officially agreed, and endorsed the HFA.

LOW-INCOME WORKERS HIT THE HARDEST: 
The U.S. is currently the only developed nation that does not require some paid sick leave for workers. Nearly 40 percent of private sector workers have no paid sick leave, including 78 percent of hotel workers and 85 percent of food service workers. A survey last year by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago found that "68 percent of those not eligible for paid sick days said they had gone to work with a contagious illness like the flu." As CAP Senior Fellow Ann O'Leary and Karen Kornbluh, U.S. Representative to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, pointed out in The Shriver Report: A Women's Nation Changes Everything, "too often, most low- and many moderate-wage workers cannot access even the minimum benefits provided to more highly paid workers." And this is true of paid sick leave, as 88 percent of workers in the top 10 percent of wage earners have it, compared to just 22 percent of workers in the bottom 10. "Hopefully, employers are doing the right thing and not disciplining workers who are out sick as a result of the flu," wrote Center for American Progress Senior Economist Heather Boushey. "But there's no penalty for employers who choose not to pay workers in this situation, or who refuse workers any time off at all."

A BETTER BUSINESS MODEL: 
Big business organizations have panned the notion of required sick leave, with the Chamber of Commerce saying that "
the problem is not nearly as great as some people say," and the National Association of Manufacturers warning that the HFA "would impose an inflexible government mandate on employers, making it more difficult for manufacturers to preserve and create jobs." However, lost productivity due to sick workers attending work and infecting others costs the U.S. economy $180 billion annually. For employers, the cost averages $255 per employee per year and "exceeds the cost of absenteeismand medical and disability benefits." The National Partnership for Women and Families actually found that "while a paid sick days policy would impose modest costs, the estimated business savings total $11.69 per week per worker from lower turnover, improved productivity and reduced spread of illness." The Center for Economic and Policy Research has also concluded that "there is no significant relationship between national unemployment rates and legally-mandated access to paid sick days." "When businesses take care of their workers, they are better able to retain them, and when workers have the security of paid time off, their commitment, productivity and morale increases, and employers reap the benefits of lower turnover and training costs," said National Partnership President Debra Ness.

LOCAL EFFORTS: 
Two major cities -- San Francisco and Washington, D.C. -- have implemented mandatory paid sick leave policies, while a third -- Milwaukee -- has passed the requirement, only to see it tied up in court. In addition, 15 states have proposed mandatory sick leave laws. 
"We are all being advised by our doctors to stay home if we're sick, but that is a cruel piece of advice if you don't have paid sick time," Maine Senate President Elizabeth Mitchell said. New York City is also looking at mandatory leave, which Mayor Michael Bloomberg has expressed support for, at least for the city's large employers. New York's proposed requirement would also allow workers to stay home in the event their child's school was closed for public health reasons. "Many working parents suffered this past spring because their children's schools were closed even though their children were not sick," said Donna Dolan, chairwoman of the New York State Paid Family Leave Coalition.

To read more about flu and workers' compensation click here.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Compensating Adverse Flu Vaccine Reaction Victims

As the US flu vaccination program rolls out, the numbers are also growing for those who have reported adverse consequences from the H1N1 vaccine. The victims and their families are also lining up for benefits available in the workers’ compensation system as well as the Federal program. The existence of these programs have received little publicity and may be difficult for the public to navigate without adequate representation. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this week that pandemic activity has now increased in the US. Tom Frieden, MD, director of the CDC, said, "We have had up until now many millions of cases of pandemic influenza in the U.S. And the numbers continue to increase." President Obama signed an Executive Order declaring the Swine Fu as a national emergency. Hospitalization and death rates have increased, yet again. Over 60 million have been immunized early for seasonal flu, so that providers would be available to administer  H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available. . 

Even though the supply has been tardy for the H1NI vaccine, the companies that supply the product have promised an additional flow of supply to meet the demand. The European pharmaceutical companies, Novartis’s Focetria, GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK’s) Pandemrix, and Baxter’s Celvapan are under contract to supply a huge volume of vaccine to the US. Novartis alone has a $979 million contract to supply H1N1 vaccine to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which amount to 251 million does and the total 35% projected US supply. It is anticipated that the US supply may not arrive until the first quarter of 2010.

A recent Washington Post-ABC News Poll reflects that Americans are more worried than ever about the H1N1 flu. In a matter of weeks, from August 2009 to October 2009 those reportedly worried about getting the H1N1 flu increased from39% to 52%.  The CDC has been reluctant to advertise the need to about the vaccine because the supply has been limited and they were attempting to avoid public panic. Their program will pick up as the supply becomes increasingly available.

Adverse effects from the flu vaccine already are being reported. Deaths have been reported associated with the deaths of at least four nurses with 2009 H1N1The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a national vaccine safety surveillance program co-sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). VAERS is a post-marketing safety surveillance program, collecting information about adverse events (possible side effects) that occur after the administration of vaccines licensed for use in the United States. The data is publically available through the CDC WONDER on-line database.

Workers’ Compensation programs have provided compensation benefits in the past resulting from adverse reactions to vaccines. In many jurisdictions, vaccinations afforded to employees resulting in a benefit to the employer against possible disastrous business consequences, have been considered to be “a mutual benefit.” Therefore, any disease arising from such vaccination has been deemed compensable.

Additionally, a Federal program has been established to shield the vaccine producers from liability claims. On October 1, 1988, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (Public Law 99-660) created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). The VICP was established to ensure an adequate supply of vaccines, stabilize vaccine costs, and establish and maintain an accessible and efficient forum for individuals found to be injured by certain vaccines. The VICP is a no-fault alternative to the traditional tort system for resolving vaccine injury claims that provides compensation to people found to be injured by certain vaccines. The U. S. Court of Federal Claims hears the claims.

As of July 1, 2005, trivalent influenza vaccines have been added to the Table under this Category. Trivalent influenza vaccines are given annually during the flu season either by needle and syringe or in a nasal spray.  All influenza vaccines routinely administered in the U.S. are trivalent vaccines covered under this Category.  

The criteria for filing a claim under the VICP are the following:
  • You may file a claim if you received a vaccine covered by the VICP and believe that you have been injured by this vaccine.
  • You may also file a claim if you are a parent or legal guardian of a child or disabled adult who received a vaccine covered by the VICP and believe that the person was injured by this vaccine.
  • You may file a claim if you are the legal representative of the estate of a deceased person who received a vaccine covered by the VICP and believe that the person’s death resulted from the vaccine injury.
  • You may file a claim if you are not a United States citizen.
  • Some people who receive vaccines outside of the U.S. may be eligible for compensation. The vaccines must have been covered by the VICP and given in the following circumstances:
    • the injured person must have received a vaccine in the U.S. trust territories; or
    • if the vaccine was administered outside of the U.S. or its trust territories:
      1. the injured person must have been a U.S. citizen serving in the military or a U.S. government employee, or have been a dependent of such a citizen; or
      2. the injured person must have received a vaccine manufactured by a vaccine company located in the U.S. and returned to the U.S. within 6 months after the date of vaccination.
  • In addition, to be eligible to file a claim, the effects of the person’s injury must have:
      1. lasted for more than 6 months after the vaccine was given; or
      2. resulted in a hospital stay and surgery; or
      3. resulted in death.
The VICP program has paid over $1.8 billion dollars from 1989 through 2009. Over 2,300 families have been paid to date with over 2,200 attorneys representing clients in such matters. "Compensated" are claims that have been paid as a result of a settlement between parties or a decision made by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (Court). Approximately 18% of the benefits were paid to adults who received vaccines during the existence of the program. Since the program was expanded to adults who received vaccinations, the proportion of benefits to adults under the program has  increased proportionally. Nearly 52% of program awards in 2007 and 2008 went to adult vaccine recipients.

As the H1N1 vaccination program unfolds, those who suffer adverse reactions will be seeking benefits from both, the State workers’ compensation programs, as well as the VICP. Adequate dissemination of information concerning eligibility and procedural access to the programs will be of great benefit to the victims and their families.

Friday, September 26, 2014

CDC unveils 6-phase pandemic response blueprint

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today released a new influenza pandemic response plan that features six phases of activity, with the aim of providing clearer guidance on the timing of key actions, such as school closings and vaccinations.
The "Updated Preparedness and Response Framework for Influenza Pandemics" represents a revision of a framework issued in 2008, which itself was a modification of a 2006 plan. The latest iteration reflects lessons from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and recent responses to outbreaks of novel flu viruses, such as the swine-origin variant H3N2 (H3N2v).
The six phases outlined in the revised plan are:
  • Investigation of cases of novel flu in humans or animals
  • Recognition of increased potential for ongoing transmission
  • Initiation of a pandemic wave, meaning efficient and sustained transmission
  • Acceleration of a pandemic wave, meaning a consistently increasing number of cases in the United States
  • Deceleration of a pandemic wave, defined as consistently declining cases in the United States
  • Preparation for future pandemic waves, meaning low pandemic flu activity
The framework has been aligned with the pandemic phases of the World Health Organization (WHO) as restructured last year, the document says. It says the WHO phases provide a general view by aggregating epidemic curves from around the world, and the CDC intervals "serve as additional points of reference to provide a...
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