Health experts, employers work to stave off H1N1 virus - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Health experts, employers work to stave off H1N1 virus

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - While cases of flu-like sickness spread across the nation, most of us are still waiting for the highly-anticipated H1N1 vaccine. But many employers and health experts are being proactive, to keep the virus at bay and educate people as much as they can.

For many people, staying one step ahead of the virus has become part of daily life. That also goes for workplaces like Hy-Vee, where pharmacists are never more than a few steps away from a bottle of antibacterial gel.

"We always use it all the time after transactions," said pharmacy manager Jill Okken, "and then there's also sanitizer behind [customers] at the register, so they can turn around and use it."

Okken says gel stands usually begin to pop up around flu season. But with H1N1 joining the seasonal strain, they've become more prevalent.

"People are more aware now, that they have the opportunity to be proactive as well."

In the meantime, area clinics and hospitals are campaigning to educate the public about the virus, and the vaccine, before it becomes widely available.

Dr. Ryan Sundermann, a physician at St. Luke's Hospital, says part of that is dispelling rumors.

"The majority of these patients are going home. They're not particularly ill. They feel bad, but they're not particularly ill, and don't require hospitalization," said Sundermann at a community information forum Tuesday night.

The safety of H1N1 vaccine has been widely debated, but he and other health experts, along with the Centers for Disease Control, maintain that it's safe. Sundermann recommends that anyone who thinks they've caught H1N1 still get the vaccine when it arrives.

"Unless it's been absolutely confirmed that they had H1N1, I'd encourage them to get it once it becomes available, especially those who have some other illness such as asthma, COPD, if they're pregnant, etcetera."

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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