Guest posting by Debby McElroy
Before last week if you said swine flu the first thing to come to mind would have been the massive vaccine campaign in 1976 – generally agreed as an overreaction to the concern that the virus would pose the same risk as the flu that killed millions of people following World War I.
The important thing for the government is to implement preventive measures and respond to swine flu outbreaks to prevent people from panicking. ACI-NA has been in daily contact with the Department of
Transportation (and less frequently with Department of Homeland Security and the Centers for Disease Control) as they understand that airports have plans in place to address all sorts of emergencies – including public health concerns. And, no surprise that the system is working! Just look at the response to the incident at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport on Tuesday night, when airport EMS personnel worked with AirTran Airways and local public health officials to evaluate two passengers traveling on a flight from Cancun after reports they had flu-like symptoms. There was no flu or public health risk (just some intoxicated passengers), but both federal and industry officials agreed that the airport’s plan worked incredibly well.
ACI-NA remains very busy working with the feds to provide the latest information and believe me there is no shortage of news. Whether it is notification that Transportation Security Administration and Custom and Border Protection officials are conducting passive surveillance of airline passengers to an influenza check list for state and local governments, we are making sure that the comprehensive plans at airports just keep getting better.
Debby McElroy is the executive vice president for policy and external affairs at ACI-NA.