Thursday, September 3, 2009

H1N1 Update

I'm up to my elbows in H1N1 (pandemic influenza ie Swine flu) planning. Here's some things to consider:

  • Nobody knows how this virus will shake out. It could be a mild flu season with the usual number of flu deaths or it could be a world-wide pandemic that kills millions.
  • To date I haven't heard anything definitive about the H1N1 vaccine trials. Some have said there were no concerning side affects so production is going ahead, others have said the trials show that the vaccine may not work.
  • A nice side affect if you had the flu recently (I was in Mexico a year ago and had the "can't get out of bed for a week, did you get the license of the truck that ran me over" flu) you may have some immunity to the seasonal and H1N1 flu.
  • You may want to stock up on masks, tissue, tylenol, flu meds, etc. When the pan flu happened in our area this past spring, even hospitals were scouring stores for masks because suppliers were running out of them due to public panic and demand. The same thing will happen again if there is a major outbreak.
  • Sign up for the CDC alerts. At least you will get up to date alerts about the flu emailed to you on a regular basis so you don't have to seek out the information.
  • I also sign up for our state specific alerts (from public health and emergency management) so that I will have an idea of what is happening locally.
  • If you or your associates have access to secure medical messaging (the CDC, military, and other health and research agencies have internal messaging systems to provide secure information on many topics including H1N1 to those who have the clearance to receive such messages) then you will be able to receive the latest info on what is happening in the upper echelons of flu research, planning, and preparedness.
  • Do some simple things to protect yourself--wash your hands, cover your cough, and stay home when you are sick. Usually when you are planning for a disaster you want to take MAJOR action. Washing your hands sounds so mundane and boring however to stop the spread of viruses which are passed via person to person contact, it makes sense.
  • Do the basic preps you would take to get ready for any disaster: have an emergency fund, be able to work from home if necessary, be able to conduct business such as banking online, have stored food and water (the more the batter), etc.
  • Some technical details: the vaccine should be out in late October. It is thought to be a two-shot process but further research shows that only one vaccination may work. The priority list currently is children (6 months to 24 years old), pregnant women, first responders, and some with compromised immune systems.
More info will be posted as it develops...

1 comment:

  1. I have a cousin who is the DON at a large hospital in a university town, if she thought this was going to be a big thing or a bust. She said that they are preparing for a BIG THING, because the low down in medical circles seems to be untested vaccine, too little, too late. She thinks that the epidemic may have built up such a head of steam by the time the vaccine becomes available that it will be useless. I work in a nursing home/assisted care facility, and we are already hearing about mandatory quarantine staffing. If it gets bad, and they can get enough volunteer workers, nobody in/nobody out for 14 to 21 days at a time.