Obama calls on nation to prepare for H1N1 flu wave
U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday called on the nation to prepare for the second wave of H1N1 flu that has left thousands Americans hospitalized earlier this year, Xinhua reported.
"We know that we usually get a second, larger wave of these flu viruses in the fall, and so response plans have been put in place across all levels of government," said the president after he was briefed by medical, educational and homeland security officials at the White House.
"Our plans and decisions are based on the best scientific information available, and as the situation changes, we will continue to update the public," he said.
Obama urged all state and local governments on the front lines to provide antiviral medications and vaccines to public, and prepare themselves to take necessary steps to support the health care system.
Hospitals and health care providers should continue preparing for an increased patient load, and to take steps to protect health care workers, he noted.
The president also advised American public to take their roles in responding to the virus, by following government guidelines to control the spread of infections, such as staying home after being sick, washing hands frequently, and covering mouths with sleeves when sneezing.
During its first wave in the U.S. in April, the H1N1 flu has hospitalized 8,843 and killed 556.
The White House released earlier on Tuesday a report titled 2009-H1N1 National Preparedness and Response Overview, including some key elements of preparedness and response efforts for the fall wave of H1N1 flu.
According to the report, the National Framework for 2009-H1N1 preparedness and response includes the four pillars of surveillance, mitigation, vaccine, and communications, and requires partnership of Congress, governments at all levels, the medical community, private-sector entities, and community-based groups.
To prepare for the return of H1N1 flu, the U.S. should make steady progress on developing a safe, effective, and voluntary H1N1 flu vaccine, and adopt a voluntary H1N1 flu shot program available to all Americans, said the report.
It also encourages Americans to "act on a shared responsibility to reduce the impact of H1N1 flu.