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 year's National Preparedness Month theme is, " Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How." The FEMA urges people to prepare for specific threats such as a flood, wildfire, hurricane, and power outage, and to join the FEMA Preparedness Portal to register your events and get connected to preparedness programs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is actively engaged in preparedness initiatives that focus on the following weekly theme areas: family, neighborhood, workplace and school, global, and online. Also, see the CDC Caring for Children in a Disaster Web page.
AAP Call to Action
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) asks members to take specific actions to promote pediatric emergency readiness in September. Select ideas follow:
Enhance Influenza Prevention and Control
Promote influenza vaccine use and infection control measures. Review the AAP policy Recommendations for Prevention and Control of Influenza in Children, 2018-2019.
Get your annual flu shot and encourage others to do the same! See the AAP policy Influenza Immunization for All Health Care Personnel: Keep It Mandatory.
Arrange to identify and talk with parents of children at highest risk of influenza complications (e.g., children with chronic medical conditions, such as pulmonary diseases [e.g., asthma], metabolic diseases [e.g., diabetes mellitus], hemoglobinopathies [e.g., sickle cell disease], hemodynamically significant cardiac disease, immunosuppression, renal and hepatic disorders, or neurologic and neurodevelopmental disorders). Make sure these children get vaccinated as soon as vaccine is available and that parents have a plan for prompt antiviral treatment when the child has symptoms of influenza-like illness. Encouraging three-way communication among the parents, primary care provider, and specialist is beneficial!
Do not delay antiviral treatment while waiting for a definitive influenza test result. Early therapy provides the best outcomes, as the benefit of antiviral treatment is greatest when initiated within 48 hours of symptom onset.
Some children 6 months through 8 years of age require 2 doses of flu vaccine, given 4 weeks apart and no later than June 30th. The appointment for a second dose is sometimes missed, so attention and follow-up is needed for this group of children.
Encourage vaccination for pregnant women. Pregnant women may receive influenza vaccine at any time during pregnancy to protect their infants, potentially for as long as 6 months, through the transplacental transfer of antibodies.
Take steps to improve child care center preparedness for pandemic influenza. Review the May 2017 AAP Pediatrics article, "Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Among Child Care Center Directors in 2008 and 2016".
Refer families to HealthyChildren.org and share with families a series of YouTube videos that cover common questions of parents related to vaccines. For more information, see Families Fighting Flu and Prevent Childhood Influenza.
A total of 177 influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported during the 2017-2018 flu season (through July 17, 2018). Even one influenza-associated pediatric death is too many. See the CDC FluView Web page and refer to the AAP/CDC What's the Latest with the Flu messaging series.
Improve Personal Preparedness Planning
Share 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.