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ACLU says US pandemic flu plans may jeopardize civil liberties

[JURIST] A report [PDF text; press release] issued Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] criticized efforts by the Bush administration to prepare for a potential bird flu pandemic by relying on a law enforcement/national security approach rather than a public health approach. The report, authored by three professors, cautioned that the administration's current pandemic response plans could threaten civil liberties if enacted. The report recommended measures to ensure that vaccines are quickly and fairly distributed, that privacy rights are protected, and that public health officials remain subject to legal accountability. Officials with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) [official website], which has devised its own Pandemic Influenza Plan [PDF text; fact sheet], said in response that the government's plans already incorporate a significant number of the ACLU report's recommendations. Reuters has more.

The US government has developed a website which provides avian and pandemic flu information to the public. In November 2005, US President George W. Bush asked Congress to devise a plan to provide liability protection [JURIST report] for vaccine manufacturers to prepare for a possible bird flu epidemic [White House fact sheet].

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