The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants to learn if better understanding and use of school absentee information and school closures can help slow disease transmission during an influenza pandemic.

CDC considered school closures to be an important measure to watch during the early stage of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the agency says in a notice explaining a new collection of information. The pandemic started in the spring, but a new vaccine was not available until October and sufficient stock to cover all school-age children wasn’t present until December.

“However, retrospective review of the U.S. government response to the pandemic identified a limited evidence base regarding the effectiveness, acceptability and feasibility of various school related measures during mild or moderately severe pandemics,” the agency concludes.

Now as it updates pandemic guidance, CDC seeks better evidence for determining appropriate triggers, timing and duration of school-related measures to respond to a pandemic, including closures. From a school district in Wisconsin, CDC will collect reports of individual student symptoms, vaccination status, recent travel, recent exposure to others with flu symptoms, and duration of illness, through telephone and in-person interviews. Up to 1,500 individuals may participate.

Findings will inform new guidance on school-related measures to slow the spread of flu, particularly school closures, according to CDC.


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