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January 3, 2013

New Jerseyans are not well prepared for disasters like Hurricane Sandy, anthrax threats, and epidemics, according to a new study by the Trust for America’s Health funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. New Jersey scored only a four out of 10 indicators in a report on health emergency preparedness of each state. That ranked New Jersey among the bottom seven states in the nation.

The report criticized the Garden State for not being prepared for extreme weather due to the lack of a complete climate change adaptation plan; not having enough staffing capacity at the public health laboratory to work extremely long days for up to eight weeks in response to an infectious disease outbreak; cutting funding for public health programs in fiscal year 2011-2012; not mandating that all licensed childcare facilities have a multihazard evacuation and relocation plan; not meeting the goal of vaccinating 90 percent of infants for whooping cough; and not participating in a nurse licensure compact that it said affects health-system preparedness.

The indicators in which New Jersey scored favorably included response readiness, meaning the state is able to notify and assemble public health staff within 60 minutes to ensure a quick response; requiring Medicaid to cover flu shots without co-pays; maintaining its response network for chemical threats; and being accredited by the Emergency Management Accreditation Program.

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