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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
November 16, 2006

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Thomas Slater
609-984-7160


 
DHSS awards nearly $6.5 Million to local heath agencies For pandemic influenza preparedness


 

 

The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has awarded nearly $6.5 million in funding to local health agencies statewide to increase the state’s ability to prepare for and respond to a potential influenza pandemic.

 

The funding, provided by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is being distributed in two phases.

 

During the first phase, DHSS awarded New Jersey’s 22 LINCS agencies $987,155 and 93 local health departments $754,636. Each LINCS agency was awarded between $30,000 and $76,000. Local health departments were awarded between $4,000 and $25,000 during this phase.

 

These funds were used by health departments to conduct assessments and analyses of their current pandemic influenza preparedness capabilities.

 

During the second phase of funding, DHSS will award LINCS agencies $3,837,984 and

local health departments $890,180, totaling $4,727,164.  These funds will be used to develop, exercise and improve local and regional operational plans for pandemic influenza and to continue to address priorities previously identified in their phase-one assessment.

 

Each LINCS agency will receive between $153, 000 and $213,000 during the second phase of funding while local health departments will be awarded between $5,000 and $27,000 during the second phase.

 

“During the early days of an influenza pandemic, it will be vital that communities and municipalities be prepared to respond if we are to contain a rapidly spreading flu outbreak,” said Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D. “And the time to begin preparing is now. By awarding funding to county and local health agencies, we hope to be prepared as best as we can on all levels.”

An influenza pandemic is a global outbreak that occurs when a new virus appears in humans that can cause serious illness and spread easily from person to person. Three major pandemics occurred in the 20th century and no one knows for sure when the next pandemic will happen, although experts say we are overdue for the next pandemic.

In addition, DHSS has received nearly $2 million in federal funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to strengthen its pandemic influenza planning on a statewide level.

 

This funding is being used by DHSS to:

 

·        Purchase surgical masks to bolster the existing supply to New Jersey’s strategic state stockpile. In the event of a pandemic influenza, the Department can provide the masks to help protect citizens who may be at risk.

 

·        Purchase quick reference pocket guide listing reportable diseases in New Jersey and distribute them to doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers. The guide will serve as a reminder to healthcare providers about which diseases and injuries are reportable to the state.

 

·        Purchase and provide hospital laboratories with enough rapid flu test kits to last through September 2008.  This will help the Department to maintain a strong flu surveillance network while federal funding is available.  The Department has identified hospital laboratories that can perform this test. The Department will work with these labs to make sure the tests are performed properly. The Department will also give the test kits to sentinel physicians along with culture collection materials so that the Department can analyze specimens in its lab.

 

·        Conduct a public awareness campaign for the general public. The campaign includes the development of a pandemic flu website, posters, flyers and a public service video that played at checkout counters in 176 supermarkets statewide.

 

For more information on influenza pandemics, visit www.NJFluPandemic.gov.

 

 

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