Flu Update 09.15.09

A message from the Vermont Department of Health

Like a snowstorm, we can’t stop the flu from coming – either the regular, seasonal flu or the new pandemic flu. It’s more important than ever that Vermonters know the precautions and the actions they can take to prepare now.

The new pandemic flu – novel influenza A (H1N1), sometimes called swine flu – has not gone away. This virus is the predominant flu virus in circulation in the U.S. and worldwide. The Vermont Department of Health and many partners in state government and the private sector have been working intensively this summer to prepare for the coming flu season, which is certain to be complex.

‘Know what to do about the Flu’ Forums will be held during September, Emergency Preparedness Month, and beyond to brief local leaders and residents about preparations now underway. The forums are sponsored by the Vermont Department of Health and Vermont Emergency Management. State officials and public health experts will be on hand to discuss preparations the state is making – including plans for offering H1N1 vaccine to those groups of people most at risk for serious illness – as well as the actions communities and individuals can take to cope with the flu.

Sept. 22 – Burlington Hilton
Sept. 29 – Rutland Holiday Inn
Sept. 30 – Springfield High School
Oct. 1 – Lyndon Institute

All forums will be run from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

‘Know what to do about the Flu’ PSAs will begin soon on TV, radio and in print. With the help of Montpelier resident Willem Lange, Vermonters will be reminded to get vaccinated, take actions to help keep illness from spreading, stay home if you’re sick, and if you need medical attention, call your health care provider first. And meanwhile, stock up to stay home – in case you or someone in your family is too sick to go out.

Newest Flu Action Guides – New and detailed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is now available for a variety of sectors, starting with schools. Each set of guides is offered with a helpful communication toolkit that includes sample letters, action steps, fact sheets, etc.

Go to www.flu.gov to find these, along with webcasts, videos, Qs&As;, eCards, PSAs and more. Also check the Health Department’s website at healthvermont.gov for Vermont-specific information and resources, with links to flu.gov – or dial 2-1-1. Also follow us on Twitter – twitter.com/healthvermont.

Newest guidance –
Small businesses – http://flu.gov/professional/business/smallbiz.html
Businesses, employers and workplaces – http://www.flu.gov/professional/business/toolkit.html
Institutions of Higher Education (technical schools, colleges & universities) – http://flu.gov/professional/school/higheredtoolkit.html
Schools K-12 – http://flu.gov/professional/school/toolkit.html
Childcare and Early Childhood – http://flu.gov/professional/school/childtoolkit.html

Flu Vaccination – Vaccine for the regular seasonal flu is starting to come into the state, and nearly everyone is recommended to get that vaccination as early as possible. Ask your health care provider about vaccine, or go to healthvermont.gov to find a public flu clinic: http://healthvermont.gov/prevent/flu/flu_clinics.aspx.

Vaccine for the new H1N1 flu is also expected to start coming into the state by mid-October, and planning is underway to offer this new vaccine in a variety of settings, including schools. Stay tuned for details. The new H1N1 vaccine is recommended to go first to those groups of people who could be most seriously affected if they became ill:

pregnant women
household contacts and caregivers for children younger than 6 months of age
healthcare and emergency medical services personnel
all people from 6 months through 24 years of age
people age 25 through 64 who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza

For more information – Check healthvermont.gov, flu.gov – or dial 2-1-1 (for information or help in English or in any language).

Nancy Erickson
Communication Director
VT Department of Health