US Government’s Pandemic Preparedness & Response Policy: Key Takeaways for Nurses

Debra Riley


We all remember what it was like at the height of the pandemic: equipment shortages, constant uncertainty, hot topics in nursing and healthcare arising every day.

Our lives changed forever – and that goes double if you’re a nurse.

While many of those changes put extra burdens on hospital staff, they’ve also created new opportunities and improved existing processes.

We need to keep in mind what has changed to make sure new guidelines are followed, and that we appreciate what has changed for the better.

Let’s take a look at these guidelines.

pandemic preparedness


The newly christened Office of Pandemic Preparedness Response, along with other new offices mandated by the 2024 Global Health Security Strategy, has permanently restructured the overarching framework for the US government’s approach to health security efforts, standards, and processes related to pandemics.

It places a major emphasis on preparedness, investments in new technologies, and improved response.

Prioritizing Healthcare Preparedness

The GHS puts a premium on ensuring that hospitals and other medically relevant facilities can remain well-stocked with the goods required to provide emergency medical services.

The US government observed that medical supply chains were vulnerable to disruption and exploitation as a result of mass outsourcing of procurement and production of medically relevant goods to foreign countries, especially China. 

It calls for major investment into this sector to secure these supply chains and promote efforts to ensure that hospitals always maintain sufficient supplies of critical equipment, including beds, PPE, vaccines, and other basic medical equipment.

This should be a comfort to nurses, who have often spoken out about the pitiful state of hospital stocks and poor equipment, especially in aged care facilities. Led by the OPPR and its inaugural Director, Major General (ret) Paul Friedrichs, this new approach to the preemptive security of medical supply chains should be a big help to hospitals and their employees in ensuring that they maintain the appropriate stocks of relevant materials.

Investing in Technology

More PPE is great for everyone – especially nurses – but it’s not enough on its own to ensure that a potentially even more dangerous future pandemic doesn’t have an even worse outcome.

That’s why the US government has committed to investing in other technologies, including biotechnology, improved PPE, and early warning systems, including waste systems integration for early detection of pandemics. 

Some of these technologies should help prevent pandemics, while others can also help ensure that we catch them before they get out of hand.

Detecting a pandemic early can ensure that we take quick action, both to contain the spread and prepare our health system, both of which should help to avert the overwhelm experienced by so many hospitals and medical professionals that led to excessive deaths and a lowered national standard of care. 

The GHS emphasizes not only investing in new technologies but also improving the systems we use to conduct research and share data, further enhancing our ability to improve our solutions.

This entails a revamp of the National Laboratory System and the tools it uses to sequence pathogens and record and transmit data about its results.

Hopefully, these tools will spread to industry, and improve the relatively primitive systems often used by hospitals and other practices to store and transmit medical data.

nurse performing covid test

The Importance of Immunization

Unsurprisingly, the GHS seeks to prioritize immunization as an important tactic for preventing and fighting future pandemics. It seeks to prioritize researching new vaccines, improving access to existing vaccines, and fighting disinformation about vaccines.

The GHS seeks to promote collaboration in the development of new vaccines between the public and private sectors, as well as between countries.

This would not only increase the collective resources available to make new discoveries and produce the resulting medicines, but also improve the equity of access to such vaccines – a major problem during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The GHS also emphasizes science-oriented, community-based efforts to fight disinformation about vaccines, since vaccine skepticism has the potential to worsen existing pandemics, or even contribute to the development of novel pathogens through mutation of existing viruses as they pass from host to host, as in the case of COVID-19.

This could entail improved education for nurses to help them inform patients about the science and statistics that support vaccine use.

group of nurses training

Global Coordination

The GHS and related government-directed pandemic responses via the US Agency for International Development, including the funding of the World Bank’s Pandemic Fund, have also spurred increased global investment in related technologies and pandemic preparedness.

The GHS emphasizes the need for global coordination to ensure that future pandemics either don’t reach the same scale of infection, or are better managed, both at home and abroad.

This global approach to preparedness and investment ensures that all countries, big and small, are a part of the solution to such a scenario, rather than making the problem worse.

Surely, if we all work together, we can help prevent another pandemic on the scale of COVID-19; even if we can’t, we should face such threats together rather than alone.