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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

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Last updated on Friday, April 22, 2011.

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