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In order to assist member employers with preparation for H1N1 (swine) flu in the workplace, we've compiled various links to government and other resources on the topic, including articles from law firms. We will continue to add information as it becomes available.

Andrew S. Doniger, MD, MPH, Director, Monroe County Dept. of Public Health reports that they are working closely with state and federal health officials to facilitate the H1N1 vaccine in our area. Here is an excerpt from the Monroe County website: Seasonal flu shot clinics have been postponed for the time being. They may be re-scheduled later in November when more vaccine arrives. Getting a seasonal flu shot later in November and even December and January is still wise to do because this type of flu does not typically peak until January or February. There is also a lot of interest in H1N1 vaccines. At this point only a small number of doctor's offices have H1N1 vaccine so we still see no reason to contact them. We expect that to change quite a bit as we get towards the end of October and into early November when more substantial amounts of H1N1 vaccine are expected to arrive. As doctor's offices get vaccine they have their own methods for informing patients. Our best projection as to when H1N1 public clinics will begin is mid-late November. Details should be firmed up by the end of October. We need to have adequate vaccine on-hand to run clinics. H1N1 vaccine will be given in phases, with those at highest-risk going first. There are slight differences in priority groups for seasonal and H1N1 vaccine.

Over the coming weeks Monroe County Dept. of Public Health will continue to provide guidance about vaccination and other methods to prevent the spread of H1N1 in our community, and ask that you check their website periodically for updates.

The Department of Homeland Security has developed the following 10 tips for businesses to help employers protect employees from H1N1 flu. The recommendations are part of the department's Planning for 2009 H1N1 Influenza: A Preparedness Guide for Small Business.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the following advice which employers may want to share with employees: if you are sick with respiratory symptoms (cough, sore throat, body aches) AND fever of at least 100 degrees: Stay home from work or school until at least 24 hours after the fever has resolved, typically one full week, though the duration may be longer or shorter depending on the individual. Doing so will help minimize the amount of illness transmission that occurs in your community. In addition, if you are sick it is important to take steps to avoid having contact with people who have medical conditions, or are pregnant, as the flu is especially serious for them. The CDC has also released guidance that recommends actions that non-health care employers should take now to decrease the spread of seasonal flu and 2009 H1N1 flu in the workplace and to help maintain business continuity during the 2009-2010 flu season. The guidance includes additional strategies to use if flu conditions become more severe. The guidance in this document may change as additional information about the severity of the 2009-2010 influenza season and the impact of 2009 H1N1 influenza become known. Click here to read more about it on the CDC website.

In addition, the CDC has developed a communication toolkit to provide information and communication resources to help businesses and employers implement recommendations from the CDC's Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to the 2009-2010 Influenza Season.

Employer FAQs on Flu Response has provided answers to many of the questions that arise during pandemic planning. The subjects covered include: human resource policies, equal employment and privacy issues, workplace benefits, workplace safety and health issues, and unemployment issues and financial assistance. Click here to view the FAQs. Please remember to consider the New York State Human Rights law and any other applicable laws when establishing your company's response and be sure to discuss with legal counsel to minimize liability.

H1N1 flu and related resources:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website on H1N1 flu (click here)
  • World Health Organization (click here)
  • - US Government site for flu resources (click here) *Be sure to check out Business Planning for Professionals on the left side of the page
  • NYS Department of Health website (click here)
  • Monroe County Department of Public Health website (click here)
  • OSHA pandemic guidelines, very detailed (click here)
H1N1 flu articles from law firms:
Other articles of interest:
Governor Paterson has established a hotline, available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, for individuals who have questions or concerns about the H1N1 flu: (800) 808-1987.

Employers should continue to encourage good basic hygiene practices (handwashing, use of hand sanitizer, covering coughs/sneezes, etc.) but may want to remind employees that for those covered by MVP Health Care or Excellus, they can call MVP (nurse line) or Excellus (health coach) hotlines to help determine if they should be seen by their physician or not. Other insurance carriers may have similar hotlines.

In an effort to help employers prepare, RBA hosted a special meeting on Prevention and Preparation for Influenza on Friday, May 8. All of the meeting handouts have been saved in one PDF document for your convenience. Click here to view or print the handouts from the session.

RBA members with questions on this topic can contact Kathy Novak, director of research and surveys, at (585) 256-4618 or Jennifer Suppe', HR specialist, at (585) 256-4608.

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