H1N1 Vaccine Is Top Flu Concern For U.S. Businesses

The number-one H1N1 flu concern among U.S. businesses is the availability of a vaccine for employees, according to a new survey by the Business Roundtable.

New York Public Information Campaign Warns of Swine Flu
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New York Public Information Campaign Warns of Swine Flu

The organization also found that nearly 90-percent of businesses surveyed have activated or updated their crisis plans since an outbreak of the H1N1 influenza in April 2009. 35-percent of the survey respondents said they need more information about the severity of H1N1 pandemic flu compared to seasonal flu.

Member companies in the Business Roundtable represent one-third of the U.S. economy, including 10 million workers.

The group launched the survey several months ago in order to measure how well businesses were preparing for H1N1 and its potential effects on employees, customers, and operations.

"The findings are a reminder of how it is incumbent on the business community to work together with the government and other key parties to protect the health and well-being of our employees, fellow citizens, and communities in which we live and work," said Business Roundtable President John Castellani.

  • Business Roundtable President John Castellani on H1N1

The organization is helping companies communicate H1N1 prevention advice to workers, using information from several government agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Small Business Adminstration, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Occupational Safety and Health Adminstration.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has also issued a major H1N1 preparedness guide for businesses, entitled "It's Not Flu as Usual." The report outlines key differences between seasonal flu and pandemic flu, an action plan for businesses to decrease the spread of flu, and information about Tamiflu, manufactured by Roche, and Relenza, produced by Glaxo SmithKline , the two drugs most commonly used to treat H1N1.

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Other groups advising businesses on the most effective ways to stop the spread of H1N1 include the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).On a global scale, the World Health Organization and the United Nations have advised their members, including international businesses, on H1N1 prevention.

On the web, Google tracks outbreaks with a Flu Trends feature and an H1N1 Flu-Tracking Map.

In addressing the top concern in the Business Roundtable survey, the CDC says an H1N1 vaccine should be available in early October, but only for people considered most at-risk for contracting the virus. The vaccine is manufactured by Sanofi Aventis, Glaxo Smith Kline, CSL, Novartis , and Astra Zeneca's MedImmune unit.