BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Facing the Flu Season Armed with Knowledge

Posted by egehl on September 2, 2009

As we’ve all heard it’s time to start thinking about flu season.  And this season sounds pretty scary.  I am sure I am not the only one feeling nervous after hearing recent media reports regarding a possible swine flu outbreak.  As if the regular flu wasn’t bad enough, now we have to worry about a second strand of yuckiness. We are headed into a bad season and unfortunately may be surprised by the swine flu’s severity and the speed with which it spreads. pig

White House advisors are predicting that the swine flu, otherwise known as the H1N1 virus, could possibly infect 50 percent of the population and cause as many as 90,000 deaths, which is an eye-opening, scary number.  We shouldn’t freak out though about this report, but instead prepare to be ready, remain cognizant about our health, and take the necessary precautions.

Awareness should be raised, not anxiety levels.

Everyone should enter into this period calmly armed with factual information and how to act responsibly.

Businesses and other organizations should anticipate multiple employee absences due to personal or family illness, and convince employees to stay home if they or their children become sick.  Now more than ever it’s vital that organizations review their sick leave policies to meet the needs of their employees.

However unfortunately many employers do not offer paid sick leave and thousands of employees lack adequate coverage to stay home. In a previous YWM post, the issue of paid sick leave was brought up when the swine flu first broke out. The issue was raised that as government officials prepare for a possible epidemic they must recognize that thousands of people lack sick leave and will not stay at home for financial reasons, or fear of losing their job.  Ironically many workers who work in direct contact with the public and would be the most likely to pass on an illness like the swine flu, such as restaurant workers, child care workers and hotel employees, are among the least likely to have paid sick days.

Therefore given recent information about the fast approaching flu season it makes sense for Congress to act on the Healthy Families Act. In 2007, Congress first introduced the Healthy Families Act which would require that employers with fifteen or more employees guarantee workers up to seven paid sick days so that employees can recover from a short-term illness, care for a sick family member, seek routine medical care or seek assistance related to domestic violence.  In fact, the late Senator Kennedy was a great champion for this issue and sponsored the Senate bill.  The bill was re-introduced in May and should be rolled into the healthcare reform legislation because it’s an important aspect of the health and well-being of our citizens.

Nevertheless while we wait for Congress to act we must be informed with how to protect ourselves.  A swine flu vaccine is not expected to be widely available until mid-to-late October and early indications suggest the vaccine may require two doses.

The Center for Disease Control is not anticipating a vaccine shortage, although reports say there will be a limited amount at first.  It is recommended that priority be given to pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months, health care and medical professionals, and children 6 months to 18 years old.  The swine flu vaccine will not protect against the seasonal flu so plan to get a regular flu shot as well.

In the meantime until the vaccine comes out cover your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing, wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water, and avoid close contact with sick people.  Basically do all of the things our mothers warned us to do or else pay the consequences.

It is important that the Administration and our elected officials level with us regarding the swine flu’s severity and what we should be doing instead of trying to mask the truth with good intentions.  If everyone is prepared and acts responsibly hopefully the predicted figures will not become a reality.


One Response to “Facing the Flu Season Armed with Knowledge”

  1. […] in addition to school supplies and after-school schedules, everyone should be making H1N1 (aka: swine flu ) […]

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