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CERC: Pandemic Influenza Overview & Objectives


Preparing for and responding to a pandemic, especially a severe pandemic, will challenge response officials and the public in all communities. We can expect the following:

  • Susceptibility to the pandemic influenza virus will be universal.
  • Of those who become ill with influenza, 50% will seek outpatient medical care.
  • The number of hospitalizations and deaths will depend on the virulence of the pandemic virus, with severe pandemic influenza causing nearly 2 million deaths in the United States.
  • In an affected community, a pandemic outbreak will last about 6 to 8 weeks.
  • Multiple waves (periods during which community outbreaks occur across the country) of illness could occur with each wave lasting 2-3 months.
  • The need for fast, accurate, and credible information to be vast.

Communicating to concerned members of the community will be a paramount responsibility and the right message delivered at the right time by the right person could save lives. The HHS/CDC CERC: Pandemic Influenza course will give leaders and communication professionals the best approaches and tools to exercise quality communication before, during, and after a pandemic.


Participants should expect to gain the following understandings:


  • The psychology of a severe pandemic and what kinds of messages the public will need from their public health professionals.
  • Why stigmatization occurs and how officials can respond and discourage it.
  • The importance of strengthening community hardiness and personal resilience to provide the optimum opportunity for recovery from the crisis.
  • How to incorporate loss, grief and mourning rituals in communication to the community while respecting cultural differences.
  • Distinguish which populations will be unable to receive general public health emergency messages related to pandemic influenza through mass communication channels during the initial phase of a public health emergency.
  • Recognize the National Incident Management System and the intricacies of the Joint Information Center
  • How information technology and the new media influence communication decisions and pandemic preparedness.

What are Different Objectives?

  • Appraise the range of challenges presented by a severe influenza pandemic and the communication steps that could be taken.
  • Formulate communication priorities based on a full exploration of the context of a severe influenza pandemic.
  • Recognize communication themes required to fulfill severe influenza pandemic response goals of fewer disease cases, spread over a longer timeframe with fewer deaths.

Hardiness and Personal Resilience Objectives

  • Recognize the positive role of community hardiness and personal resilience.
  • Compare and contrast expected community outcomes based on hardiness or lack of hardiness.
  • Predict the community's level of hardiness now and identify ways to build, restore, and strengthen hardiness before and during a severe influenza pandemic through communication activities.
  • Acknowledge the role of leaders in building community hardiness before and during a pandemic.

Stigmatization Objectives

  • Define stigmatization
  • Recall the four discernible characteristics of stigmatization.
  • Evaluate how stigmatization may occur in the community.
  • Formulate ways for communication professionals to counter stigmatization

Reaching Special Populations Objectives

  • Employ consistent concepts regarding special populations to ensure that appropriate assessments are conducted, planning done, and resources appropriately allocated.
  • Distinguish which populations will be unable to receive general public health emergency messages related to pandemic influenza through mass communication channels during the initial phase of a public health emergency.
  • Recognize that communication alone may not remove all barriers to preventing illness, injury, or death among population groups.

Grief, Loss and Bereavement Objectives

  • Describe types of loss, grief, and bereavement concerns for individuals and communities during a severe influenza pandemic.
  • Recognize the cultural differences in bereavement rituals.
  • Select ways to communicate to individuals and communities empathetically about their loss.

Information Technology and New Media Objectives

  • Recognize the multitudes of [traditional and] non-traditional ways the public can and will access information, and the speed with which electronic communications will reach innumerable channels.
  • Construct a plan to reach out to non-traditional communication channels to help disseminate accurate, consistent, timely information to large numbers of people.
  • Evaluate message and rumor monitoring methods to include new technologies and the ability to counteract any false information that may become widespread.


Contact Us: - Prepare. Plan. Stay Informed. The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC-INFO

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