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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Pandemic Influenza Vaccine: An Investment in Preparedness that Lasts More Than a Decade

Author: By Ruben Donis, Ph.D., Pandemic Influenza Medical Countermeasures Division, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)
Published Date: 12/13/2018 9:13:00 AM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; Innovations; National Health Security;

As part of our nation’s overall pandemic preparedness strategy, HHS set a preparedness goal of establishing and maintaining a stockpile of bulk vaccine antigen and adjuvants for influenza viruses with pandemic potential to vaccinate 26 million people immediately after a pandemic is declared. BARDA began pre-pandemic influenza vaccine procurement in 2005 for vaccines that would provide protection against emerging avian influenza H5N1 viruses posing a significant pandemic threat.  But a decade later we were compelled to ask how long would those stored vaccine components   Read more…

Three Perspectives on Volunteering, Growth and Service with the Medical Reserve Corps

Author: Esmeralda Pereira, Director of the Medical Reserve Corps Program
Published Date: 12/3/2018 12:28:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

As the holidays approach, many people are thinking about ways that they can give back to their communities and help others. Volunteering with the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is a great way to help your community become healthier – during disasters and every day. Across the country, MRC units offer both medical and non-medical volunteers opportunities to serve people in their communities and a chance to network with other volunteers, learn new skills through training, and gain experience in emergency management and response.

Approximately 190,000 people volunteer with  Read more…

Four Ways to Enhance Language Access during Disaster Response and Recovery

Author: Cheryl A. Levine, PhD, Senior Advisor for At-Risk Individuals, Senior Policy Analyst Neelam Salman, JD, Civil Rights Analyst Amit S. Zigelman, MPH, Management Analyst
Published Date: 11/29/2018 5:14:00 PM
Category: Exercises & Trainings; Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

Creating Disaster Health Communications Your Community Can Understand

You probably know that your community includes people who find it difficult to speak, read or understand English, and it’s easy to underestimate the diversity of language access needs in our communities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, at least 350 languages are spoken across the country. In addition, about 15 percent of American adults report some trouble hearing, 8.1 million people across the  Read more…

FDA approval of anti-seizure drug provides a new tool for protecting Americans during a chemical attack

Author: Judith Laney, Ph.D., Chief, BARDA Chemical Medical Countermeasures programs, and LTC Matthew Clark, Ph.D., Joint Product Manager, Chemical Defense Pharmaceuticals, Medical Countermeasure Systems
Published Date: 10/31/2018 10:35:00 AM
Category: Medical Countermeasures;

With the recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of the drug Seizalam® (midazolam injection) as an anti-seizure medication, the United States took a step forward in protecting Americans from a potentially deadly health effect of chemical weapons.

Over the last 25 years, there has been increased use of chemical weapons. Delivering effective medical countermeasures against nerve agents is essential to saving civilians’ lives in the United States, and is necessary to ensure that the Joint Force maintains mission effectiveness to protect the nation.

H  Read more…

ASPR and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) forge new partnership to deliver novel and robust health security capabilities

Author: Robert P. Kadlec, MD, MTM&H, MS, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Steven H. Walker, Director, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Published Date: 10/1/2018 3:06:00 PM
Category: Innovations; Medical Countermeasures;

On September 18, marking seventeen years since the first anthrax attack in the United States, the President unveiled a National Biodefense Strategy and signed a National Security Presidential Memorandum which directed federal agencies to collaborate on biodefense, including budgets, to make the nation safer.

That spirit of interagency collaboration is reflected in a new partnership forged between ASPR and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – DARPA – to strengthen the capa  Read more…

Building hope while rebuilding health and social services: a year after the historic 2017 hurricanes

Author: Josh Barnes, HHS/ASPR Recovery Director
Published Date: 9/20/2018 3:57:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Observances;

Disaster anniversaries can be difficult emotionally for survivors and responders alike. As the months and years go by, the television cameras and the imagery of destruction often leave the airwaves far earlier than when the effects of the disaster are resolved. As national attention fades, the communities must sustain their momentum with a focused recovery effort, which can be complicated and frustrating.

Disaster anniversaries are also opportunities for noting progress and ultimately…for hope because residents and leaders saw disaster recovery as an opportunity to learn fr  Read more…

Modernizing the National Disaster Medical System to Meet the Health Security Threats of the 21st Century

Author: Ron Miller, Acting Director for the National Disaster Medical System within the Emergency Management and Medical Operations Division at the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 9/4/2018 4:03:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; National Health Security;

In 2017, our nation suffered three back-to-back hurricanes that caused catastrophic damage in Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. That experience highlighted the importance of the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) – a federally coordinated system that augments the Nation's medical response capability during times of disasters or public health emergencies. ASPR, the government agency overseeing NDMS, deployed more than 4,600 personnel and 944 tons of medical supplies and equipment to treat app  Read more…

BARDA and its partners bring new ammunition to the battle against superbugs

Author: Brian Tse, PhD, Project Officer, BARDA Antimicrobial Medical Countermeasures Branch, and Mark Albrecht, PhD, Acting Chief, BARDA Antibacterial Medical Countermeasures Branch
Published Date: 8/27/2018 5:41:00 PM
Category: Medical Countermeasures;

In 1954, Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin, began warning against the potential for bacteria to become resistant to the new antibiotic. Just over a decade later, in July 1968, physicians documented the first human case of a superbug known as MRSA, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Fast forward 50 years, and MRSA has become just one of many drug-resistant infections healthcare providers and patients battle every day.

Back in the 1950s and 60s, drug manufacturers were developing an array of new antibiotics so resistance did not seem im  Read more…

ASPR’s Vision for Building Readiness: Sustaining Robust and Reliable Public Health Security Capabilities

Author: Robert P. Kadlec, MD, MTM&H, MS, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Published Date: 8/10/2018 12:54:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; National Health Security; Medical Countermeasures; Response & Recovery;

HHS’ Vision for Healthcare Preparedness is a multi-part blog series that describes ASPR’s four pillars to achieving national health security: providing strong leadership, building a Regional Disaster Health Response System, sustaining public health security capabilities, and advancing an innovative medical countermeasures enterprise. This blog focuses on sustaining public health security capabilities. Read the next post in the series here.

A catastrophic health emergency – whether n  Read more…

New Smallpox Antiviral Increases National Health Security

Author: Rick Bright, Director, and Julie Schafer, Acting Director of Strategy, both of ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a component of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)
Published Date: 7/13/2018 4:20:00 PM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; Innovations; Public Health Preparedness; National Health Security;

​​In the 20th century alone, smallpox deaths worldwide numbered in the hundreds of millions. Roughly one-third of people infected with the disease died, while survivors were often left with permanent scars or blindness. After an aggressive global vaccination program in the mid-1970s, the World Health Organization declared smallpox eradicated.

​​But smallpox remains a health security threat in the 21st century. Fears that undeclared stocks of the smallpox virus might exist and that they could be used as weapons of bioterrorism spurred the U.S. government’s Biomedical Advance  Read more…

From 1918 to 2018: BARDA’s Role in the Evolution of Pandemic Preparedness

Author: Rick Bright, Director, and Julie Schafer, Acting Director of Strategy, both of ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a component of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)
Published Date: 5/21/2018 4:56:00 PM
Category: Innovations; Public Health Preparedness; Observances; Medical Countermeasures; National Health Security;

BARDA and its industry partners have made tremendous strides to build better, faster, and more flexible vaccine technologies to enable the right vaccine to be where we need it, when we need it. Combating this age-old problem is an epic challenge, and there is still work to be done to speed availability of life-saving vaccines in a pandemic.

In September 1918, a doctor stationed at Camp Devens, a military base located near Boston, Massachusetts, wrote a letter to a colleague:

Read more…

EMS: A Critical Partner in Successful Community Disaster Planning and Response

Author: Richard Hunt, MD Senior Medical Advisor, National Health Care Preparedness Programs, ASPR and John Hick, MD, Deputy Chief EMS Medical Director, Hennepin County Medical Center
Published Date: 5/21/2018 11:43:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Hospital Preparedness; National Health Security;

During EMS Week, we want to draw attention to the vital role EMS plays in disaster healthcare and salute our Emergency Medical Services colleagues nationwide. We know that across the country, our EMS colleagues work on the frontlines of health, providing lifesaving services every day, even on the worst days in your communities. EMS is the first point of contact with medical services for millions of Americans, and with every call EMS professionals put years of training and education to use to make a difference. Your care saves lives.

All too frequently, EMS must respond not j  Read more…

What’s in Your State’s Disaster Management Plan? 4 Ways to Incorporate Mental and Behavioral Health into Disaster Planning

Author: Caroline Willemin, MBA, Office of Policy and Planning, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and CDR Aimee Williams, DHSC, LCSW-C, BCD, United States Public Health Service, Office of Policy and Planning, HHS Office of the Asstant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 5/9/2018 2:13:00 PM
Category:

Last year was one for the record books: hurricanes, floods, severe cold, drought, and wildfires – totaling over $1 billion in climate- and weather-related damages. Hurricane Preparedness Week is a perfect time for states, tribal nations, and territories to start reviewing state and local disaster preparedness plans to ensure they are up-to-date and address all aspects of planning, response, and recovery. 

A recent analysi  Read more…

Healthcare Response to a No-notice Incident: Lessons Learned from Las Vegas Festival Shooting

Author: Melissa Harvey, RN, MSPH, Director of the Division of National Healthcare Preparedness Programs, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 4/24/2018 3:48:00 PM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Public Health Preparedness; National Health Security;

On October 1, 2017, during the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on the Las Vegas Strip, a gunman opened fired from the 32nd floor of a nearby hotel on the crowd of concertgoers. He fired more than 1,100 rounds leaving 59 dead and 527 injured.

Recently, ASPR staff spoke with responding agencies from the Las Vegas shooting to help identify lessons learned that can help other communities, specifically members of the nation’s 476 health care c  Read more…

Hospital Preparedness Program: Celebrating 15 Years of Health Care Preparedness and Response

Author: Melissa Harvey, RN, MSPH, Director of the Division of National Healthcare Preparedness Programs, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 4/16/2018 11:38:00 AM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Public Health Preparedness; National Health Security;

Whether from devastating hurricanes, terrorist attacks, or deadly disease outbreaks, the United States regularly faces crises that threaten the health and safety of Americans. Saving lives during these events requires thorough planning and dedicated coordination to ensure the nation’s health care system is ready when disaster strikes.

Health care readiness is at the heart of ASPR’s Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP). As the only source of federal funding to prepare the nation’s mostly private healt  Read more…

Decontamination Decoded: Disrobing, Dry Wiping Removes 99% of Chemical Contaminants

Author: Judith Wolfe Laney, PhD, Chief of Chemical Medical Countermeasures, Division of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Countermeasures within BARDA at the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 4/11/2018 9:31:00 AM
Category: Exercises & Trainings; Medical Countermeasures; Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery; Innovations;

Last month, a truck carrying 4,400 gallons of hydrochloric acid collided with a train in Centerville, PA. For several hours, a column of white vapor floated above the wreckage. Emergency responders acted quickly to evacuate residents in the area and clean up the spill.

On a daily basis, thousands of businesses use our nation’s roads and railways to transport hazardous chemicals used for industrial or household purposes. Whether a chemical is released by accident, such as the case in Centerville, or intentionally by rogue assailants, terrorist organizations, or non-state acto  Read more…

Returning to Readiness: Strengthening Psychological Resilience by Building Behavioral Health Coalitions

Author: CDR Aimee Williams, DHSC, LCSW-C, BCD, PhD, United States Public Health Service, Office of Policy and Planning, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and Frankie Catalfumo, MPH, Jr. Management Analyst, Aveshka Inc. in service of the Office of Policy and Planning, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 3/29/2018 9:31:00 AM
Category: Response & Recovery; Public Health Preparedness;

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was one of the most destructive in recent history. During the recovery phase of a disaster, all impacted areas strive to stabilize, rebuild, recover, and be ready for the next emergency. Returning to readiness is a slow pivot and a relentless fight to re-establish broad public health and medical care services. The challenges and issues following a large-scale disaster are often too complex for any one agency or organization to address. Assembling a coalition of community stakeholders can be an effective strategy to determine what health care suppo  Read more…

Texas Moves Full-Speed Ahead to Implement Health and Social Service Projects to Improve Resilience and Build Sustainability

Author: C. Kaleinani Lau, MPH, Field Coordinator, Health and Social Services Recovery Support Function (RSF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Public Health Analyst, Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Primary Health Care
Published Date: 3/19/2018 4:48:00 PM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

More than six months after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, Texas is still recovering. But, with so many people and organizations in need of help, where is the best way for the state of Texas and its partners to focus their health and social services recovery efforts?

Six teams of recovery specialists, led by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, worked with representatives from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Department of State Health Services to identify projects as a part of the Read more…

Fighting microscopic threats through international collaboration: Health ministers use lessons learned from the 1918 influenza pandemic to strengthen pandemic preparedness and global health security

Author: Division of International Heath Security
Published Date: 3/19/2018 4:37:00 PM
Category: National Health Security; Observances; Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

One hundred years ago, the 1918 influenza pandemic caused massive devastation, ultimately infecting over 500 million people and killing between 50 and 100 million individuals worldwide. During recent outbreaks of influenza, Ebola, and other emerging infectious diseases, we have learned how critical collaboration among countries and international organizations is for an expedited and more effective response. Working together with our partners to strengthen global health security is crucial to protect Americans from pandemics and other health security threats despite whether they sta  Read more…

Lessons from Fukushima: New guide provides answers to save lives and improve emergency medical response

Author: John F. Koerner, MPH, CIH, Senior Special Advisor - Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, High-Yield Explosive (CBRNE) Science and Operations, HHS ASPR Immediate Office
Published Date: 3/12/2018 2:22:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Innovations; Exercises & Trainings; Hospital Preparedness; National Health Security; Response & Recovery;

Quick questions: A nuclear incident has occurred in your community and people are going to come to you for help. Do you know which medical issues you should focus on first? Or which steps need to be taken immediately after an incident to best protect the public? Or what resources might be available to help?

Before you answer “no” to any of those questions, download a copy of the newly released Decision Maker’s Guide: Medical Planning and Response for a Nuclear Detonation.

An e  Read more…

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