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Can I do anything to prepare for a pandemic?

The Ministry of Health recommends the general public follow the appropriate general infection prevention and control measures described below to decrease influenza transmission.

1) Talk to your family and friends

Talk to your family and friends about health hygiene, hand washing and safe coughing and sneezing.

  • Include paracetamol (for fever) in your home emergency survival kit.
  • Have a plan for what you and your family would do if you had to stay at home during a pandemic.

2) Have a plan

  • Have a plan if you and your family have to stay at home for several weeks during a pandemic. Talk to your family and friends about their plans.
  • Your plan needs to include who could help you with food and supplies if you and your family are ill. One way of doing this is by having a telephone network for you and the people who live close by.
  • Have the phone number for your family doctor in a prominent place (eg, the fridge door)
  • Think about an expanded emergency supplies kit. You can find a list of basic emergency kit contents on the inside back cover of the Yellow Pages. Or you could check the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management website on What To Do in a disaster.

3) Build up your emergency supplies kit

Make sure you have an emergency survival kit. Plan for having about a week's worth of essential supplies such as non-perishable food, as well as plenty of fluids. For further information see the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management website on What to do in a disaster.

What should I put in the Kit?

  • Have a supply of food and drinks to last for at least a week. Choose non-perishable foods like canned foods, soup sachets and dried foods.
  • Have extra paracetamol for all the family to help relieve aches and pains, and high temperatures. Remember not to give aspirin to children under 12. If you have prescription medicines (eg, for blood pressure), dont wait until you run out to get more. Consider putting some in your emergency supplies kit.
  • Have tissues (or toilet paper) and plastic bags supermarket bags are good to put the used tissues into.
  • You might want to include some masks, like some standard surgical masks from a pharmacy or the sort you get in a hardware store to protect yourself when sanding or using solvents. Clear advice on how best to use any masks safely and appropriately will be given at the beginning of a future pandemic. For example you might be advised to wear a mask if you get sick at work and need to travel home via public places. Masks should only be worn for short periods. They must be changed if they get wet from sneezing or coughing.
  • Think about things to do if you and your family have to stay home for a couple of weeks (eg, books, games and videos).

Vaccine available?

Is there a vaccine available for a flu pandemic?

The Ministry of Health has a formal arrangement with Australia's CSL Ltd - the only influenza vaccine manufacturer in the Southern Hemisphere - which gives us a guaranteed supply if we need a pandemic vaccine.

However, manufacture of such a vaccine can only start once we know the strain of the virus causing the pandemic, and so a vaccine is not currently available.