Fall Flu Season, H1N1 Virus

It’s time to start planning and preparing for the fall flu season and the ongoing H1N1 flu outbreak. That’s why, today, the Obama Administration held the H1N1 Influenza Preparedness Summit.

More than 50 states, tribes, and territories joined federal officials and agencies for the summit to kick off nation-wide efforts to be ready.

Below is an open letter to Americans from Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, all of whom spoke at the summit.

Fellow Americans,

This spring we were confronted with an outbreak of a troubling flu virus called 2009-H1N1. As the fall flu season approaches, it is critical that we reinvigorate our preparedness efforts across the country in order to mitigate the effects of this virus on our communities.

Today, we are holding an H1N1 Influenza Preparedness Summit in conjunction with the White House to discuss our Nation’s preparedness. We are working together to monitor the spread of 2009-H1N1 and to prepare to initiate a voluntary fall vaccination program against the 2009-H1N1 flu virus, assuming we have a safe vaccine and do not see changes in the virus that would render the vaccine ineffective.

But the most critical steps to mitigating the effects of 2009-H1N1 won’t take place in Washington — they will take place in your homes, schools and community businesses.

Taking precautions for this fall’s flu season is a responsibility we all share. Visit Flu.gov to make sure you are ready and learn how you can help promote public awareness.

We are making every effort to have a safe and effective vaccine available for distribution as soon as possible, but our current estimate is that it won’t be ready before mid-October. This makes individual prevention even more critical. Wash your hands regularly. Take the necessary precautions to stay healthy and if you do get sick, stay home from work or school.

We are doing everything possible to prepare for the fall flu season and encourage all Americans to do the same — this is a shared responsibility and now is the time to prepare. Please visit Flu.gov to learn what steps you can take to prepare and do your part to mitigate the effects of H1N1.

Take Care,
Kathleen, Janet and Arne