HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt Addresses Vermont Pandemic Planning Summit

DATE: January 12, 2006
Contact: Communication Office

SOUTH BURLINGTON - Health and Human Services Secretary Leavitt is in Vermont to address public health officials, business and community leaders about pandemic flu preparedness, as the federal government prepares the country for a potential influenza pandemic.

“Pandemics are global in nature but their effects are always local, so I am pleased that Governor Douglas is taking a leadership role to prepare Vermont for this threat,” Secretary Leavitt said. “Pandemic planning needs to address how schools, businesses, public agencies, faith-based organizations and others participate in pandemic preparedness. With this meeting, local officials can identify needs specific to Vermont communities and begin crucial coordination to assure readiness if a pandemic outbreak strikes.”

The event is Vermont’s first statewide gathering to address pandemic readiness planning, and will give a broad range of organizations an opportunity to participate in the process.  Invited guests include first responders, business leaders, educators, health care providers, faith-based organizations, volunteer agencies, policy makers and others.

Secretary Leavitt outlined a series of in-state summits to address pandemic preparedness December 5. The in-state summits will help the public health and emergency response community in each state inform and involve their political, economic and community leadership in this process. Secretary Leavitt and other top HHS officials will participate in the meetings over the next few months. HHS has also prepared tools to help with the planning process, including a state and local checklist, a business checklist, a guide for individuals and families, and a checklist for faith-based organizations. The guides were distributed at the summit.

More information on pandemic flu readiness is available at www.pandemicflu.gov.