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US schools unprepared for another pandemic

on Sat, 09/01/2012 - 10:47

The American Journal of Infection Control published a study that revealed the insufficient level of pandemic preparedness in U.S. schools. The authors of the study – a team of researchers from Saint Louis University – collected and analyzed survey responses from approximately 2,000 school nurses serving primarily elementary, middle, and high schools in 26 states.
Only 29.7% of these schools proved to stockpile any personal protective equipment and this percentage fall down to 1.5% when regarding specific medication for pandemic emergence. Also, 22.9% of schools have no staff members trained on the school’s disaster plan and only 2.2% require school nurses to receive the annual influenza vaccine.
The picture that emerged from these data is quite discomforting, with the only positive note being the percentage of school nurses being vaccinated in 2010/2011 (73.7%), and seems to suggest that most of the schools are less prepared to face a pandemic than any other kind of natural disaster. The authors of the research concluded that American schools should improve their disease emergency planning by coordinating with local and regional authorities and institutions, and by involving school nurses, school administrations and healthcare professionals in these plans.