Potential Implications of Pandemic Influenza for Faith Communities
- Psychological impact on members may be significant.
- Public health containment measures may dramatically change operations and practices.
- School closures.
- Cancellation of public gatherings may include worship services.
- Maintaining safe distances between people may not be feasible in most places of worship.
- High absenteeism at worship services.
- Possible economic losses.
- End of Life Care may be compromised.
- Recommendation to avoid contact with ill persons may prevent praying for, or visiting, the sick.
How Faith Communities Can Help
- Educate members and staff about pandemic influenza through flyers, newsletters, web broadcasts and meetings.
- Speak candidly with members about how pandemic influenza might impact religious practices and operations.
- Encourage persons in the communities you serve to comply with public health directives.
- Promote good health habits among your Faith community to minimize spread of diseases.
- Post respiratory and hand hygiene signage.
- Expand the number of soap and sanitizer stations throughout your place of worship.
- Encourage individual and family preparedness.
- Identify members with special needs or without family and other support systems and assist with their preparedness plan.
- Consider focusing your organization’s efforts on providing services that are most needed in your community (e.g. mental health, social services).
- Coordinate with external organizations and share your response plan.
—Adapted from Gloria Addo-Ayensu, M.D., M.P.H., Director of Health, Fairfax County Health Department, State of Virginia