The Pentagon is ramping up to make troops available to aid the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) if there is an aggressive outbreak of H1N1 virus, commonly known as Swine Flu, this fall, according to reports by CNN and Fox News.
The proposal for the troop standby originated from U.S. Northern Command's Gen. Victor Renuart, but according to CNN has not yet been formally approved by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The plan is for the military to put in place regional teams of military personnel to aid civilian authorities in the event of any serious outbreak.
A senior U.S. defense official told Fox News that no final decision has been reached on how the military effort would be manned, but would most likely include personnel from all the military branches.
At this point, however, it remains uncertain as to whether the personnel would come from the active duty or the National Guard and Reserve.
In the event of a major outbreak, civilian authorities would be at the head of the relief efforts, according to the Fox News report. The military would be most useful in supplying air transport or testing of large numbers of viral samples from sick citizens.
Recently a special government panel advise that swine flu vaccinations be offered first to pregnant women, health care workers and children six months and over.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices panel also recommended that priority in the vaccination line be given to parents of infants; non-elderly adults who have high-risk medical conditions, and adults ages 19 to 24, the group that has proven to be the most at risk for the infection.
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