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County Fill-in-Blank News Release

H1N1 Guidance for Workplaces

For Release: _____
Contact: _____
Phone: _____

The _____ County Health Department today reminded employers and businesses in _____ County that they should be preparing now to protect their employees and customers during the upcoming flu season.

“The workplace is often where flu viruses are easily spread among employees as well as to others in the community,” said _____ County Administrative Director _____. “The flu can have a major impact on business operations, causing employees to stay home because they are sick or because they are caring for sick family members.”

_____ emphasized that businesses should consider having flexible leave policies or alternate work schedules to help prevent the spread of flu at the workplace, allow employees to continue to work or function while limiting contact with others, help
maintain continuity of operations, and help people manage their health and their family’s
needs.

_____ offered the following flu prevention action steps for workplaces:

Sick employees should stay home.
People with symptoms of flu-like illness should stay home until at least 24 hours after fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicines.
Sick employees at work should be advised to go home.
Employees who appear to have a flu-like illness upon arrival or become sick during the work day should be promptly separated from others and sent home.
Encourage your employees to wash their hands often.
Instruct employees to wash their hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner, especially after coughing or sneezing.
Encourage your employees to cover their coughs and sneezes.
Communicate the importance of covering coughs and sneezes and provide tissues and no-touch wastebaskets.
Clean surfaces and items that are more likely to have frequent hand contact.
Clean surfaces that are frequently touched with cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas. Additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is not recommended.
Encourage employees to get vaccinated.
Encourage employees to get vaccinated for seasonal flu and employees at higher risk for flu complications to get vaccinated for 2009 H1N1 flu (swine flu) when vaccines are available to them.
Protect employees who are at higher risk for complications of flu.
Employees at higher risk for complications of flu, like pregnant women and people with certain chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and asthma, should check with their health care provider promptly if they become sick. Encourage these employees to get vaccinated for seasonal flu and 2009 H1N1 flu as recommended when vaccines are available. Early treatment with antiviral medications is very important for people at higher risk for flu complications because it can prevent hospitalizations and deaths.
Prepare for increased numbers of employee absences due to illness in employees and their family members and plan ways for essential business functions to continue.
Cross-train staff to perform essential functions so that business operations can continue.
Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps.
Advise workers to check for signs of flu-like illness before traveling, to notify their supervisor, and stay home if they are sick. Tell employees who are traveling how to seek health care if they become sick and need care. If employees become sick during travel, they should stay in their hotel room unless they are seeking medical care.
Prepare for the possibility of school dismissals or temporary closure of child care programs.

Allow workers to stay home to take care of their children if schools are dismissed or child care programs are closed. Encourage your employees with children to plan for child care alternatives if possible.

For more information, call the _____ County Health Department at (phone number) or visit these Web sites: http://h1n1.health.ok.gov OR www.flu.gov.

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