State health officials are getting ready for what they expect will be a flare up of the H1N1 or swine flu virus this fall. But officials used a statewide summit in Rothschild Wednesday to share tips with local health agencies, educators, businesses and residents about how they can prepare and protect themselves from an outbreak.
The best piece of advice is to get vaccinated against both the seasonal flu and the H1N1 virus, said health officer Dr. Seth Foldy.
“This is a safe and very effective way of reducing influenza,” Foldy said, adding that seasonal flu vaccines will be available before the swine flu vaccines are.
He said people most at risk of contracting the flu virus should get vaccinated first, including health care workers, pregnant women, people with chronic conditions and young people from 6 months to 24 years old.
New guidelines also suggest schools and businesses shouldn’t close just because one person comes down with the flu. But they should make accommodations for students and employees to work or study at home.
“Sick people shouldn’t be in the workplace but people who are exposed to the virus are OK if they don’t have any symptoms,” Foldy said.
Among the other advice officials shared – companies don’t need to cancel their annual picnics or holiday gatherings, travel bans aren’t necessary and healthy people don’t need to wear masks to protect themselves.
You can learn what steps you can take at home, school and work to protect yourself from the flu at the state Web site pandemic.wisconsin.gov. Local 2-1-1 call centers will also have the same information, Foldy said.
Contributed by Matt Lehman-WSAU