Pandemic influenza planning is well under way across the globe. Antiviral drugs and vaccines have dominated the therapeutic agenda. Far less work has been conducted on stockpiling and planning for deployment of antimicrobial drugs against secondary bacterial pneumonia, a cause of substantial illness and death in previous pandemics and epidemics. In the event of a pandemic, effective antimicrobial drug measures are expected to substantially benefit public health. We address issues regarding use of antimicrobial drugs as stocks of individual agents are diminished and the role of resistance surveillance in informing such policy. Furthermore, vaccination with polysaccharide and conjugate pneumococcal vaccines is considered as part of a pandemic strategy. Most illness and death from influenza are likely to occur in developing countries, where neuraminidase inhibitors and vaccines may be neither affordable nor available; thus, compared with industrialized countries, the benefits of treating bacterial complications in developing countries may be substantially greater.
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