WHO checklist for influenza pandemic: infringing individual rights

Posted on April 30th, 2009 by bile
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At least they are discussing it (sortof) rather than just doing it. There is no doubt however that they would gladly follow through with such infringements. For your own good of course.

1.5 Legal and ethical issues

1.5.1 Legal issues

During a pandemic, it may be necessary to overrule existing legislation or (individual) human rights. Examples are the enforcement of quarantine (overruling individual freedom of movement), use of privately owned buildings for hospitals, off-license use of drugs, compulsory vaccination or implementation of emergency shifts in essential services. These decisions need a legal framework to ensure transparent assessment and justification of the measures that are being considered, and to ensure coherence with international legislation (International Health Regulations).

Questions to be addressed
Is there a legislative framework in place for the national response plan? Does this framework include contingencies for health-care delivery and maintenance of essential services, and for public health measures to be implemented?
Legal issues that are highlighted in other parts of the checklist are brought together as a separate checklist here. Other issues are added.


  • Identify the advantages and disadvantages of declaring a state of emergency during a pandemic.
  • Each jurisdiction needs to assess the legal basis of all public health measures that are likely to be proposed, including:
    • travel or movement restrictions (leaving and entering areas where infection is established);
    • closure of educational institutions;
    • prohibition of mass gatherings;
    • isolation or quarantine of infected persons, or of persons suspected of being infected, or persons from areas where pandemic strain influenza infection is established.
  • Assess standing policy on, and legal basis for, influenza vaccination of health-care workers, workers in essential services (see sections 5.1 and 5.2) or persons at high risk. Decide if this policy needs refinement to increase uptake during pandemic alert and pandemic periods. Consider the use of both seasonal and pandemic vaccine for these groups.
  • Address liability, insurance and temporary licensing issues for retired health-care workers and volunteers who may be working in areas outside their training and competence in health and emergency services.
  • Consider liability for unforeseen adverse events attributed to vaccine and/or antiviral drug use, especially where the licensing process for a pandemic strain vaccine has been expedited. Liability issues may affect vaccine manufacturers, the licensing authority and those who administer the vaccine.
  • Ensure a legislative framework for compliance with the International Health Regulations.
  • Consider including influenza or pandemic influenza in national legislation for the prevention of occupational diseases.

1.5.2 Ethical issues

Ethical issues are closely related to legal issues as mentioned above. They are part of the normative framework that is needed to assess the cultural acceptability of measures such as quarantine or selective vaccination of predefined risk groups.

Questions to be addressed
Have ethical aspects of policy decisions been considered? Is there a leading ethical framework that can be used during the response to an outbreak to balance individual and population rights?

  • Consider ethical questions related to limiting the availability of a scarce resource, such as rationed diagnostic laboratory testing, pandemic strain influenza vaccine or antiviral drugs.
  • Consider ethical questions related to compulsory vaccination for healthcare workers and workers from essential services.
  • Consider the ethical issues related to limiting personal freedom, such as may occur with isolation and quarantine.
  • Ensure the establishment of an ethical framework for research, especially when this involves human subjects.

Massachusetts senate passes pandemic

Posted on April 29th, 2009 by bile
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It took corporate media swine flu hysteria to ram through a martial law bill in Massachusetts. S18 gives the Governor the power to authorize the deployment and use of force to distribute supplies and materials and local authorities will be allowed to enter private residences for investigation and to quarantine individuals.
us news Swine Flu Martial Law Bill Clears Massachusetts Senate

The Associated Press reports:

The Massachusetts Senate has unanimously passed a pandemic flu preparation bill that has languished in the Legislature before the recent swine flu outbreak.The 36-0 vote today sends the measure to the House. Both branches have taken it up in past years, but have not been able to agree on the details.

The new Senate version would allow the public health commissioner — in a public health emergency — to close or evacuate buildings, enter private property for investigations, and quarantine individuals.

The bill specifically mandates the following:

(1) to require the owner or occupier of premises to permit entry into and investigation of the premises;
(2) to close, direct, and compel the evacuation of, or to decontaminate or cause to be decontaminated any building or facility, and to allow the reopening of the building or facility when the danger has ended;
(3) to decontaminate or cause to be decontaminated, or to destroy any material;
(4) to restrict or prohibit assemblages of persons;
(5) to require a health care facility to provide services or the use of its facility, or to transfer the management and supervision of the health care facility to the department or to a local public health authority;
(6) to control ingress to and egress from any stricken or threatened public area, and the movement of persons and materials within the area;
(7) to adopt and enforce measures to provide for the safe disposal of infectious waste and human remains, provided that religious, cultural, family, and individual beliefs of the deceased person shall be followed to the extent possible when disposing of human remains, whenever that may be done without endangering the public health;
(8) to procure, take immediate possession from any source, store, or distribute any anti-toxins, serums, vaccines, immunizing agents, antibiotics, and other pharmaceutical agents or medical supplies located within the commonwealth as may be necessary to respond to the emergency;
(9) to require in-state health care providers to assist in the performance of vaccination, treatment, examination, or testing of any individual as a condition of licensure, authorization, or the ability to continue to function as a health care provider in the commonwealth

Any person who knowingly violates an order of the commissioner or his or her designee, or of a local public health authority or its designee, given to effectuate the purposes of this subsection shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or by a fine of note more than one thousand dollars, or both.

Unsurprising the states are looking to take advantage of the self induced panic by increasing their power.

US government planning increased police state due to swine flu

Posted on April 28th, 2009 by bile
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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has sent a memo to some health care providers noting procedures to be followed if the swine flu outbreak eventually makes quarantines necessary.

DHS Assistant Secretary Bridger McGaw circulated the swine flu memo, which was obtained by CBSNews.com, on Monday night. It says: “The Department of Justice has established legal federal authorities pertaining to the implementation of a quarantine and enforcement. Under approval from HHS, the Surgeon General has the authority to issue quarantines.”

McGaw appears to have been referring to the section of federal law that allows the Surgeon General to detain and quarantine Americans “reasonably believed to be infected” with a communicable disease. A Centers for Disease Control official said on Tuesday that swine flu deaths in the U.S. are likely.

Federal quarantine authority is limited to diseases listed in presidential executive orders; President Bush added “novel” forms of influenza with the potential to create pandemics in Executive Order 13375. Anyone violating a quarantine order can be punished by a $250,000 fine and a one-year prison term.

Congressman Ron Paul, MD, on the recent swine flu scare

Posted on April 27th, 2009 by bile
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