Saturday, October 03, 2009

Flu Planning Requires Pragmatism not Hysteria

There's a lot of talk about flu preparation, but not - it seems - enough serious work on it. Here's an example of the sort of planning that should be going on. An enlightened company I know is appending this text to emails that set up job interviews:
Due to the Swine Flu we are taking some precautions. There will be NO repercussions based on your need to reschedule if:
  • You, a member of your family, or a person you are in close contact with experiencing flu-like symptoms - if yes, we will schedule the interview at the point that they are over the symptoms.

  • You can reschedule if you are experiencing symptoms prior to their interview - simply let us know.

  • Have you traveled to an impacted area? If so please push the interview out a minimum of one week.

If you're setting up appointments and you're not doing something like this, then expect to get sick people coming to your business and spreading the flu.

And what of organizations that sell tickets, like theaters and airlines? If there is a major flu outbreak and no plans are made to let people get a refund if they're sick, then flu will spread in those places. Similarly, if you have employees who don't get sick leave (yes, it's extremely common - just think part-time and contract workers), if you don't have a policy for them then they'll come to work sick and spread the flu.

Instead of solid pragmatic planning, what we're getting is confusing media stories. In the last couple of weeks I've read articles claiming that hand-washing might not help prevent flu (that was the headline, at least: the article actually said that it had been impossible to prove scientifically); that a seasonal flu shot might increase the odds of getting H1N1 (I've discussed that before); and that anti-virals like Tamiflu might be ineffective or worse. Newspapers exist to sell advertising and so they're looking for anything to spark reader's interest, but some of this coverage is sensationalist and irresponsible.


1 comment:

Bruce Fields said...

"Instead of solid pragmatic planning, what we're getting is confusing media stories."

I dunno, sounds like we're getting a little of both? That's been my experience so far....