Preparing for and responding to pandemic influenza: implications for people with disabilities.

State, local, tribal, and territorial emergency managers and public health officials must address the specific needs of people with disabilities in their pandemic influenza plans. Evidence from Hurricane Katrina indicated that this population was disproportionately affected by the storm and aftermath. People with disabilities, particularly those who require personal assistance and those who reside in congregate care facilities, may be at increased risk during an influenza pandemic because of disrupted care or the introduction of the virus by their caregivers. Emergency and public health planners must ensure that personal assistance agencies and congregate care operators make provisions for backup staffing and that those who provide critical care are given adequate antiviral drugs and vaccines as they become available.