Military planning for possible H1N1 outbreak

FROM CNN:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The U.S. military wants to establish regional teams of military personnel to assist civilian authorities in the event of a significant outbreak of the H1N1 virus this fall, according to Defense Department officials.

The proposal is awaiting final approval from Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The officials would not be identified because the proposal from U.S. Northern Command’s Gen. Victor Renuart has not been approved by the secretary.

The plan calls for military task forces to work in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. There is no final decision on how the military effort would be manned, but one source said it would likely include personnel from all branches of the military.

It has yet to be determined how many troops would be needed and whether they would come from the active duty or the National Guard and Reserve forces.

Civilian authorities would lead any relief efforts in the event of a major outbreak, the official said. The military, as they would for a natural disaster or other significant emergency situation, could provide support and fulfill any tasks that civilian authorities could not, such as air transport or testing of large numbers of viral samples from infected patients.

As a first step, Gates is being asked to sign a so-called “execution order” that would authorize the military to begin to conduct the detailed planning to execute the proposed plan.

Orders to deploy actual forces would be reviewed later, depending on how much of a health threat the flu poses this fall, the officials said.

Read: Obama Withholding troops from Afghanistan, on reserve for Martial Law?

More to read here: National Guard to Administer H1N1 Swine Flu Shots

UPDATED – Also Read:

Don’t Blame Flu Shots for All Ills, Officials Say
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.

As soon as swine flu vaccinations start next month, some people getting them will drop dead of heart attacks or strokes, some children will have seizures and some pregnant women will miscarry.

But those events will not necessarily have anything to do with the vaccine. That poses a public relations challenge for federal officials, who remember how sensational reports of deaths and illnesses derailed the large-scale flu vaccine drive of 1976.

This time they are making plans to respond rapidly to such events and to try to reassure a nervous public — and headline-hunting journalists — that the vaccine is not responsible.

Every year, there are 1.1 million heart attacks in the United States, 795,000 strokes and 876,000 miscarriages, and 200,000 Americans have their first seizure. Inevitably, officials say, some of these will happen within hours or days of a flu shot.

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