An influenza pandemic occurs when a completely new strain of influenza A emerges and the population has no immunity to that strain. This results in outbreaks occurring around the world, resulting in a high number of illnesses and deaths.
It is important to note that there is no pandemic influenza activity at this time. However, historically influenza pandemics have occurred 3-4 times each century with the last three occurring in 1918-1919, 1957-58 and 1968-69. It is impossible to predict exactly when the next one will occur, but experts agree that another influenza pandemic is inevitable.
The Department of Health and Wellness released the Prince Edward Island Pandemic Influenza Contingency Plan for the Health Sector in December 2006 and continues to develop the strategies that are outlined in the Plan.
The goal of planning for an influenza pandemic is to put measures in place before a pandemic occurs so that the system will be ready to manage the expected increase in people ill with influenza while at the same time managing the delivery of our critical health services.
What is the Department of Health and Wellness in PEI doing to prepare?
- Stockpiling medical supplies and anti-viral medications
- Preparing for mass vaccination for when a vaccine is available
- Developing surveillance plans and educational materials so that we know when pandemic influenza is on PEI, ensuring Islanders have the most accurate information available
- Working together across our programs and institutions so that plans are coordinated and efficient in a pandemic.
To learn more about Pandemic Influenza, the following are recommended links:
Public Health Agency of Canada - Understanding Pandemic Influenza
National Policy Recommendations on the Use of Antivirals for Prevention during an Influenza Pandemic