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Pandemic No-Shows

June 7, 2006

Preparing for a flu pandemic takes more than just stockpiling vaccines. A major factor is keeping critical human resources on the job.


Working with the flu. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

During a flu pandemic, the people you’d most want to report for work are health care workers. But a survey in Maryland found that nnarly half of them wouldn’t show.

SAAD OMER (Johns Hopkins University):
I would say it was a little unsettling.

HIRSHON: That’s researcher Saad Omer from Johns Hopkins. He says his team found that technical and support staff would be the least likely to report to work, in part because they don’t see their jobs as important.

The operators manning the phone lines are important because they’re supposed to be the front line of risk communication. People maintaining the IT infrastructure are important. So the bottom line is everyone working in the health department is important.

He says getting that across is a key part of being prepared for an outbreak. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.