Challenges for Individuals

Just as nations and communities struggle to cope with the many challenges that pandemics create, individuals likewise must bear a large burden. Employees are asked to stay home 24 hours after a fever subsides, even if they don’t have sick days to spare. Parents have to find alternative care when schools are closed, even though their children are not ill. And health care workers are asked to go to work, even though that means being among the infected.

Additionally, final decisions on vaccinations, voluntary isolation, stockpiling of supplies and what is now called “cough etiquette” are all made in the home. Naturally, people have a lot of questions about what they should and shouldn’t do during a pandemic and they look to trusted news sources for answers.

There are a number of reliable online sources providing answers to basic questions people have about pandemic disease, ranging from “Do I have it?” to “Should I stockpile?” We have aggregated some useful links on this page to guide you through the ocean of information now available on the subject.

On this page...
  Preventing infection »
  A story idea on vaccines »
  What to do if you get sick »
  Preventing the spread »
  Additional precautions »
  Information for specific groups/situations »

Prevention for specific groups/situations
Official recommendations…
CDC: Cover your cough
Answers from Seattle King County, considered a model for a smart preparedness plan
Examples of modern public health marketing, some more commercial than others…
Cough safe: a self-proclaimed “indie movie of public health education.”
Henry the Hand
A global handwashing day
And for children, Ariel singing while you wash
The controversy around the usefulness of hand washing as a tool to prevent viruses from traveling...
Hand-Washing Won’t Stop H1N1
Masks, hand washing, prevent spread of flu-like symptoms by up to 50 percent
Vaccinations: Should I get a shot?
Official recommendations from the CDC and
A write-up of concerns and facts in The Palm Beach Post
What You Need to Know About Swine Flu Vaccine” by NPR’s Richard Knox provides a good example of how to help people make decisions based on their circumstances, including underlying conditions, such as pregnancy or asthma

A story idea on vaccines

The need for swine flu vaccination varies according to each person’s unique circumstances. For example, surveillance data show that pregnant women are at substantially higher risk of severe illness or death from 2009 H1N1 influenza. Children are more susceptible than adults, and are more likely to spread the infection. People born before 1957 appear to have some natural immunity to the virus because of prior exposure to swine flu strains. Health care workers face greater exposure to sick patients and their absence from the workforce due to their own illnesses hampers efforts to deal with a pandemic.

What are the main demographic groups that live in your community and what is their risk profile? How can your reporting help individuals understand that risks are different from fears, and assist them in making more educated decisions about vaccinations?

What to do if you get sick
Navigating the CDC for direct answers:
  Flu FAQs
  What to do if you get sick
  Should I take an antiviral?
Read more in Treatment Basics: Antivirals »
  How long should I stay home?
  If someone else in the family has the flu, what should I do?

Preventing the spread of the disease
CDC advice on taking care of a sick person at home
Red Cross fact sheet on home care
Should I wear a mask
Also see our discussion of masks and respirators »

Additional precautions
Stockpiling supplies
What the Government recommends
A mom’s approach to storing food in small spaces with a small budget
Tips from Save the Children
Food safety
Is it safe to eat pork?
Is it safe to eat poultry?

Information for specific groups/situations:
People at high risk
Pregnant women
Adults with HIV
People with cardiovascular disease
People with asthma
Parents and caregivers
Pet owners

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