Pandemic Planning

Every winter, the United States suffers a seasonal flu that kills approximately 36,000 people and hospitalizes more than 200,000. But as terrible as those statistics are, health experts warn of a far more lethal kind of flu that could occur by mid-century—a pandemic flu that could kill more than half a million Americans, hospitalize more than two million and cost our economy a staggering $70 billion to $160 billion in lost productivity and direct medical expenses.  During 2006 and 2007, Pew invested in two projects to help ensure that our country is prepared for a flu pandemic or similar public health emergency.

The Pandemic Preparedness Initiative. This project, which concluded in December 2007, worked to ensure that federal and state plans for a major public health emergency are both comprehensive and feasible. In addition, it reached out to the business community to assure that companies are prepared to address a major health catastrophe such as a flu pandemic.  Finally, project grantee Trust for America’s Health ( created a Web site,, to serve as a comprehensive resource guide. The site is a one-stop, easy-to-use Web portal that contains the most current information and resources detailing how a flu pandemic might affect individuals, families and businesses, and the steps to take to become informed and prepared.

The Promising Practices project.  This project, which concluded in spring 2008, aimed to enhance public health preparedness for an influenza pandemic by sharing promising preparedness practices at the state and local levels. A collaboration between Pew Health Group, the Pew Center on the States and the Center for Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, this initiative was launched to collect and peer-review practices that can be used by other public health officials, thus conserving resources. This highly useful database of can be viewed at



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