Any strategy to cope with an influenza pandemic must be based on the knowledge and tools that are available at the time an epidemic may occur. In the near term, when we lack an adequate supply of vaccine and antiviral medication, strategies that rely on social distancing and physical barriers will be relatively more prominent as means to prevent spread of disease. The use of respirators and facemasks is one key part of a larger strategy to establish barriers and increase distance between infected and uninfected individuals. Respirators and facemasks may have a role in both clinical care and community settings.
Reusability of Facemasks During an Influenza Pandemic: Facing the Flu answers a specific question about the role of respirators and facemasks to reduce the spread of flu: Can respirators and facemasks that are designed to be disposable be reused safely and effectively? The committee-assisted by outstanding staff-worked intensively to review the pertinent literature; consult with manufacturers, researchers, and medical specialists; and apply their expert judgment. This report offers findings and recommendations based on the evidence, pointing to actions that are appropriate now and to lines of research that can better inform future decisions.