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Center for Public Health Preparedness

Preparedness and Community Response to Pandemics

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This introductory course on pandemic influenza will help the learner understand why this virus is capable of producing worldwide outbreaks. Participants will explore the epidemiology, historical context, and response efforts related to both seasonal and worldwide influenza outbreaks.

At the end of this course, learners will be competent to describe the public health role in emergency response during an influenza outbreak or pandemic and to recognize unusual events that might indicate an emergency and describe appropriate action. Additionally, learners will be able to describe their functional role(s) in emergency response and apply flexible thinking to unusual challenges within their functional role. Several activities are designed to help the learner identify personal limits of knowledge, skill, and authority and direct the learner to useful resources when these limits have been exceeded. Refer to the Core Public Health Worker Competencies for Emergency Preparedness and Response (link opens PDF document in new window).


The course is intended for a broad range of public health professionals and community responders including bioterrorism coordinators, public health professionals and other clinical professionals.


After completing this course, the learner will be able to:

  • Describe the historical context of influenza.
  • Describe what a pandemic is and how they occur (antigenic shift and drift).
  • Outline the epidemiology of influenza.
  • Explain surveillance activities related to influenza.
  • Recognize the clinical features of influenza.
  • Identify control measures to be taken prior/during a pandemic of influenza.
  • Identify response efforts and partners to a pandemic (both locally and globally).
  • Describe the unique characteristics of a virus.
  • Explain how a pandemic unfolds (pandemic phases and periods).


Original course launched September 2005. Updated April 2007, January 2012, and August 2014.

Technical Requirements

This course is built to XHTML 1.1 specifications. A modern web browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox is required to view the pages.


Estimated time for all modules is 6 hours


Free and open to the public


The course was created by Lindsay N. Benson, M.P.H., Public Health Education Specialist at the University at Albany's Center for Public Health Preparedness, with assistance from Dr. Robert Westphal, M.D., M.P.H., Director of the University at Albany's Center for Public Health Preparedness, in partnership with the Professional Development Program (PDP) of the Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, University at Albany. For more information about PDP, visit their website at http://www.pdp.albany.edu (link opens new window).


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