Feds spending billions to prepare for more complex flu season

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In light of the continued spread of the H1N1 virus and the approaching 2009-2010 flu season, the Department of Health and Human Services has announced the allocation of billions of dollars in influenza preparedness funding and additional vaccine purchases.

On Friday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced $350 million in funding for both seasonal and H1N1 preparedness efforts. As part of the recently passed supplemental appropriations bill, the money will be split between Public Health Emergency Response grants ($260 million), which will be dispersed through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Hospital Preparedness grants ($90 million), which are made available through HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration. Applications for the Hospital Preparedness grants can be submitted online at www.grantsolutions.gov and will be accepted until July 24.

In addition to these grants, HHS on Monday announced the purchase of $884 million worth of ingredients to make vaccines against the H1N1 virus. This comes on top of the $1 billion in vaccines already on order. Although seniors have shown a surprising resilience to the swine flu (H1N1 virus) relatively to younger people, the CDC recently released pandemic preparedness guidelines for nursing homes and long-term care facilities. (McKnight's, 5/1)