National Preparedness Month
September is National Preparedness Month: "Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare"
The National Preparedness Month is an annual campaign to encourage Americans to prepare for emergencies and disasters. This effort is led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is sponsored by the Ready Campaign in partnership with Citizen's Corp. This September marks the eleventh annual National Preparedness Month, and this year's theme is "Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare". The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response plans to focus on vulnerable populations, and FEMA has prepared weekly themes during September. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) asks members to take specific action to promote pediatric emergency readiness during September.
Join in National Preparedness Month
Enhance Influenza Prevention and Control
- Get your annual flu shot and encourage others to do the same! See the AAP policy Recommendation for Mandatory Influenza Immunization of All Health Care Personnel.
- Promote influenza vaccine use and infection control measures. The CDC recommends that all children aged 6 months and older, especially those with long-term chronic health conditions, get the flu vaccine every year.
- Be strategic in meeting the needs of Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN). Children with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes mellitus, hemodynamically significant cardiac disease, immunosuppression, or neurologic and neurodevelopmental disorders, are at high risk for influenza-related complications. Pediatricians, medical subspecialists, and parents can work together to make sure these children receive the seasonal influenza vaccine as soon as it is available and that there is a plan in place to treat them early if they develop influenza-like illness.
- A medical subspecialist might see a child more often than the primary care provider. If so, the specialist can add a note to reports that are sent to the child's primary care provider: "In addition, because of his/her neurologic (or other) condition, Name is at high risk for severe complications from the flu and therefore it is extremely important that he/she receive a yearly flu shot."
- Reach out to Head Start and other child care programs and provide caregivers with educational materials/strategies on influenza prevention and control. Encourage caregivers to complete the online course and review HealthyChildren.org and CDC materials.
- Share with families the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) Family Vaccines new 2-minute animated video highlighting the importance of immunization for the entire family.
Create a Disaster Supplies Kit and Develop a Disaster Plan
Get Involved in Preparedness Activities in Your Community
- Review the Pediatric Preparedness Resource Kit, which is a resource that pediatricians, public health leaders and other pediatric care providers can use to assess what is already happening in their community or state, and help determine what needs to be done before an emergency or disaster.
- Visit the Citizen Corps Web site to learn more about reaching out to your local council.
- Work with a local Community Emergency Response Team to conduct training on pediatric topics.
- Help strengthen relationships between the community hospitals and affiliated pediatric practices, identify pediatric champions, and encourage joint planning.
- Join or form a regional pediatric disaster surge network or work with other AAP chapters to form a similar network in your region. One example is the Southeastern Regional Pediatric Disaster Response Surge Network. The Pediatric Preparedness Resource Kit offers tips on Establishing Pediatric Advisory Councils or Children's Preparedness Coalitions.
- Become familiar with school districts' disaster plans. Share information about the school districts' response plans with emergency department clinician colleagues to ensure that these plans are integrated with the overall community disaster plan, and that Emergency Medical System and other responders are informed of plan details.
Emergency Preparedness Stories
The AAP and the CDC collected the following stories that highlight lessons learned or steps that doctors or families can take to improve disaster preparedness for children.