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Children washing their hands at school.

Children washing their hands at school.

Nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) are actions, apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine, that people and communities can take to help slow the spread of illnesses like influenza (flu). NPIs are also known as community mitigation strategies.

Outbreaks of seasonal flu occur every year, usually during the late fall through early spring in the United States. A flu pandemic occurs when a new flu virus emerges among people, causing illness worldwide. No flu pandemic exists now, but it is important to learn how to slow the spread of flu if a pandemic does occur. Many of these actions also can help during a regular flu season.

Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent the flu, and a vaccine is available each year for seasonal flu. However, since a pandemic flu virus is new, a vaccine may not be available right away. When NPIs are used together and early in a pandemic, they can be effective in slowing the spread of flu.

Germs like flu viruses can spread easily in places where many people are in close contact with one another, so NPIs are especially important in community settings like schools, workplaces, and mass gatherings. During a flu pandemic, NPIs can help prevent disease and death, lower the impact of disease on the economy, and keep society functioning. Most NPI research has focused on how NPIs can help slow the spread of pandemic flu. However, NPIs also may be effective in slowing the spread of other infectious diseases.

This website provides NPI research, guidance, and educational materials to help prepare for and respond to flu pandemics in community settings, especially when vaccines and medicines may not be available. Resources will be added as more research is done to determine how NPIs can be applied not only to pandemic flu, but also to other diseases. For information about CDC’s NPI research, guidance, and communication activities, see Nonpharmaceutical Interventions and CDC's Community Interventions for Infection Control Unit.

Personal NPIs

Everyday preventive actions you should always take to help keep yourself and others from getting sick include:

Community NPIs

Actions communities might take to increase space between people (social distancing) during a pandemic include:

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