Aug. 27, 2009
We rarely have the luxury of several weeks advance notice before an emergency occurs, but with a potentially bad flu season on the horizon, time is on our side.
This message is the first in a series that I will share with faculty, staff and students to help our campus prepare. If we collectively take a few actions at home and at work, we will lower the odds of catching and transmitting the flu and help our campus remain open when our students, faculty and staff need our services this fall and winter.
Current status of H1N1 flu
The World Health Organization declared a pandemic for the H1N1 flu (formerly called the “swine flu”) in June 2009. The virus continues to spread worldwide. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) expect more cases as the regular flu season approaches.
Given the real possibility of widespread cases of H1N1, we will take a proactive approach to minimize the flu’s effects on our ability to fulfill our core mission.
Preparing at home
Consider the following suggestions as you examine the needs of your family. This list is not exhaustive; use it as a starting point for personal planning.
- Transportation. Could the flu interrupt your transportation to work? What’s the plan if you or your carpool colleagues get sick?
- Childcare. Account for various scenarios (you get sick, your child gets sick, your caregiver gets sick, etc.). Make a plan that works for you and your family.
- Schools. Stay in touch with your children’s schools so you can understand their emergency procedures and the way they communicate with parents/guardians if an emergency occurs.
- Caring for family and pets. Who counts on you to check on them regularly? Parents? Aging relatives or neighbors? If you become sick and can’t follow up with these people, who will serve as backup? Also, consider the needs of pets.
- Food. Keep some easy meals on hand to feed your family in case the flu makes it difficult to get to the grocery store. Find out what delivery options exist through local grocery stores. Stock up on items to help a flu patient recover (for guidance, contact a healthcare professional).
- Prescriptions. Ensure you have a few extra days supply of critical prescriptions. Understand the emergency options at your pharmacy, and look into home delivery options.
- Emergency contacts. Ensure that family members know whom to call in a given situation. Update phone directories and cell phones.
- Leave. Review your available sick time and other available leave, in case you get the flu and are unable to work for several days or longer.
Preparing at work
In all the divisions and units of our campus, supervisors will ensure that our business continuity plans contain appropriate documentation to cover all job functions.
The Public Employees’ Benefit Board continues its annual flu shot campaign for the seasonal flu. A flu shot from a PEBB clinic, however, does not protect against the H1N1 virus. Health experts recommend that everyone get the seasonal flu shot. They also recommend getting the H1N1 vaccination as soon as it is available. For more on PEBB’s seasonal flu-shot clinics for state employees, visit the Board’s Web site: http://oregon.gov/das/pebb.
In early September, I’ll share more information about the flu and update you on any new information we receive about flu spread in Oregon. To answer HR questions, we will offer tools to help employees and managers navigate various policies and practices as they relate to flu season.
I hope you will join me to prepare for this flu season, and for taking personal responsibility to help yourself, your families, and to protect your colleagues, students and others with whom you come in contact. A small investment of time now will ensure we’re well-positioned this fall and winter.
President, Oregon State University
Oregon’s main flu site: http://www.flu.oregon.gov/
Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/
Public Employees’ Benefit Board: http://oregon.gov/DAS/PEBB/flushots.shtml
CDC Seasonal Flu Guidance: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/