Questions & Answers
Influenza - Pandemic - Policy Planning and Management
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DoD Planning Efforts

  1. How would pandemic influenza pose a threat to military operations?
    A pandemic, or worldwide outbreak of a new influenza virus, could overwhelm our military health and medical capabilities, potentially resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of hospitalizations, and hundreds of billions of dollars in direct and indirect costs. The disease could spread rapidly in the close quarters of a military unit before symptoms occur; infecting large numbers of Service members who have little or no immunity to a particular strain of influenza, making them ineffective during their illness reducing military readiness.

  2. What is the primary goal of the DoD Pandemic Influenza Plan?
    DoD plans mirror guidelines published by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and WHO, which is to reduce opportunities for human exposure to the largest reservoir of the virus.  This is achieved through the rapid detection of outbreaks and the emergency introduction of control measures.  Current response strategies are limited by the availability of rapid diagnostic capabilities, supplies of antiviral medications, and a licensed vaccine.  Initial DoD efforts must focus on limiting influenza spread by promoting effective hygiene and social distancing measures, and using targeted antiviral therapy.


  1. Is there a vaccine to prevent pandemic influenza infection in humans?
    No, there is no universal vaccine to protect again pandemic influenza.  If a new strain emerges a new vaccine would need to be developed to target those unique influenza strains.  The constantly evolving nature of influenza viruses requires continuous global monitoring and frequent reformulation of influenza vaccines.  For more than 50 years, WHO has been collaborating with scientists and policy makers on a global scale to develop a unified approach to manufacturing, testing, and regulatory oversight of influenza vaccine development as well as their efficient use and distribution.

  2. How long would it take to develop a vaccine for the new subtype of virus?
    Experts predict it would take up to six months to develop and produce a vaccine after the emergence of a new pandemic strain of influenza virus.  Initially, vaccine production would allow protection of a few, then progressively more people.  Along with the development and production of influenza vaccines, the essential components of a comprehensive pandemic response, is planning ahead for the needed supplies and other respective health care resources that would be needed during the emergency.