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The United States is looking at schoolclosings and workplace modifications duringthe initial wave of a severe influenzapandemic. The strategies are only part ofthe Centers for Disease Control andPrevention's (CDC) newly released guidelines.The recommendations may be neededto slow the spread of illness and reducethe number of deaths.

"At the very onset of a pandemic, we'regoing to be stuck to deal with this withoutour best countermeasure, which would beenough vaccine for the whole population,"noted Martin Cetron, MD, a CDC expert inpandemic flu. "We have to recognize thatwe're going to face the first wave of thiswithout [the vaccine]."

Based on the severity of the pandemic,the recommendations include the following:

  • Ask ill individuals to stay at home 7 to10 days; ask their household membersto stay at home for about 7 days
  • Dismiss students from schools andclose day care programs for up to 12weeks
  • Cancel or postpone all large publicgatherings
  • Change workplace policies to includeflextime or off-site work to limit interaction

Dr. Cetron said that the guidelines canbe adjusted as needed. The strategies aremeant to serve as a starting point to"begin to anticipate what they need to do."

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