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Flu Pandemic Preparedness Blue Paper

Flu Pandemic Preparedness Blue Paper

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Published by 4imprint

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Published by: 4imprint on Feb 06, 2012
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01/02/2013

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Flu PandemicPreparedness
 
© 2011 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
Hot, achy, and sore all over: Don’t let the flumake your business sick!
Bird flu, swine flu, what’s next flu? That’s the questionmanybusinesses are asking as they develop flu preparednessplans to respond to the next big epidemic.Even though flu hasn’t grabbed many headlines this year,a report from Harvard University’s School of Public Healthsays employers are still concerned about absenteeism froma possible flu outbreak. The researchers surveyed morethan1,000 businesses nationwide. Two-thirds said their businesscouldn’t operate normally if more than half their workers were outfor two weeks and four in five predicted severe operating problems if halftheir employees missed a month of work.
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Really though, what company could operate “normally” if half their staff wereout? But that’s what companies need to be planning for in the event of apandemic. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) predicts a flupandemic could affect as many as 40 percent of the workforce during periods ofpeak illness.
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And even if the country isn’t facing a pandemic, illness can spread throughindividual offices creating serious localized absenteeism. According to the Centersfor Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average 13 percent of the U.S.population gets the flu every year, with active flu seasons seeing closer to 20percent, or more than 62 million Americans. A Walgreens survey estimates thatthe 2010 flu season resulted in 100 million lost works days in the U.S.
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 How well your company plans its flu response will directly impact productivity andprofits in the face of an outbreak. In this Blue Paper
®
and podcast we will explorea strategy and tactics on how best to compile a flu preparedness plan for yourbusiness or organization. Read on to learn how and when to act, how to buildawareness and how best to communicate your plan to employees.
1 Reinhardt, Eric. “Is Your Business Prepared For A Flu Pandemic?.” Business Journal (Central New York) 25.2(2011): 7. Regional Business News. Web. 6 Dec. 2011. 2 “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces or an Inuenza Pandemic.” Occupational Saety and Health Administration. 2007. Web. 01 Dec. 2011. <http://www.osha.gov >.3 Walgreens. Americans Miss 100 Million Work Days and Suer Nearly $7 Billion in Lost Wages During FluSeason, New Walgreens Flu Impact Report Suggests. Walgreens. 21 Sept. 2011. Web. 1 Dec. 2011.<http://news.walgreens.com/article_display.cm?article_id=5467 >.
 
© 2011 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
Flu response team
If you don’t have a flu response plan already, your first step is to develop acorporate “flu team.” This group should include representation from a widerange of departments including HR, facilities, finance, and IT. After all, since thisis the group responsible for developing and enacting a plan, you want to be surethey’ve considered how a pandemic could impact every aspect ofyour organization.These individuals will be tasked with both development and, if necessary,implementation of the plan. In the plan, clearly define who has authority forwhich specific functions, including who makes the decision to suspend certainoperations and under what conditions.Remember, even if your company is small, your flu response team shouldinclude more than one person in case the responsible party gets sick.Businesses with more than one location should identify coordinators at eachsite to monitor local flu situations and manage response plans.
Deciding when to act
Deciding when to enact a flu response plan can be a difficult decision. Ryan Fiorini holds a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunobiology and assistedorganizations like the Coast Guard and TSA with flu preparedness from 2005 to2007. He warns that businesses should avoid using the mainstream media as theirprimary source of information regarding the severity of an outbreak. “Data canbe manipulated,” he warns.During the avian influenza outbreak in 2006, Fiorini recalls some news outletsreporting the flu had a 90 percent death rate. Yet those numbers were based oninternational reports, stemming largely from countries where access to healthcareis poor. Moreover, he says, it didn’t account for people who were misdiagnosed asnot having avian flu or people who never went to the doctor in the first place.Fiorini recommends businesses rely on the Centers for Disease Control andPrevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) for more accurateflu reports and guidance. Flu.gov is a U.S. government-sponsored resource andwas developed to be extremely user-friendly. The site includes a FluView® map,updated weekly, to show influenza activity reported by state. Businesses will alsowant to identify the appropriate flu reporting centers for their stateand/or county.

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