H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: HR planning guide, alternate drugs for H1N1, vaccine news, Ukraine cases up, pregnant women

Pandemic guide for HR professionals released
A guide for human resource (HR) managers looking for ways to quickly plan for and respond to the H1N1 pandemic has been issued by the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of CIDRAP News, and the Society for Human Resource Management. The free 42-page guide was prepared with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It includes lessons learned by HR professionals whose response skills were tested in the early days of the pandemic.
Pandemic toolkit

Studies to test steroids, statins for H1N1
Researchers in Canada, the United States, and France are planning studies to find out if corticosteroids or cholesterol-lowering statins could help the sickest H1N1 flu patients, the Canadian Press reported. Networks of intensive care specialists are setting up randomized controlled trials, said Dr. John Marshall, chair of the Canadian Critical Care Trials Group. Interest in using statins in flu patients has been spurred by the writings of retired American virologist Dr. David Fedson.
Nov 8 Canadian Press story

GSK reports good results with co-administered vaccines
Older adults who were given GlaxoSmithKline's pandemic H1N1 and seasonal flu shots at the same time generated a good immune response to both vaccines, GSK reported today. The company said 168 people over age 60 received one injection in each arm, and 89% showed an immune response to an adjuvanted formulation of Pandemrix, the novel H1N1 vaccine. Immune responses to the three strains in the seasonal flu shot were seen in 69% (seasonal H1N1), 79% (H3N2), and 100% (type B) of volunteers.
Nov 9 GSK press release

Flu-like cases in Ukraine near 1 million
Ukraine has had 936,804 cases of flu-like illness and 144 deaths since pandemic H1N1 emerged there in mid October, KyivPost, the online version of a Ukrainian English-language newspaper, reported. The number of cases exceeds the epidemic threshold in 16 of the country's 27 regions. A World Health Organization (WHO) team continued its investigation of the outbreak over the weekend, the WHO said.
Nov 8 KyivPost report

Russia gives first vaccine doses to utility workers
Russia launched the first stage of its pandemic H1N1 vaccine campaign today, giving its first doses to workers in utilities such as water, electricity, and communications, Itar-Tass reported. The health ministry said the next priority group will be medical workers and those in medical schools, followed by those who have underlying medical conditions, pregnant women, and children. The country has approved four vaccines and has so far purchased 43 million doses.
Nov 9 Itar-Tass story

Belgium, Austria, France vaccinate high-risk groups
Belgium on Nov 7 started vaccinating high-risk groups against the pandemic H1N1 virus, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. The country has sent 1 million doses to doctors' offices in an effort to reach the vulnerable groups. Meanwhile, Austria and France today started vaccinating high-risk groups with initial supplies, amounting to 1.6 million doses in Austria and 6 million in France, according to media reports. All three countries had already started immunizing healthcare workers.
Nov 7 AFP story

Bulgaria closes schools, enacts social distancing
Bulgaria's health ministry on Nov 6 declared a flu epidemic, which triggered a 1-week school closure and other social distancing measures, AFP reported. The country also suspended hospital visits and prescheduled surgeries. Though the ministry didn't close theaters or other public venues, it urged citizens to avoid crowds. Flu epidemics had already been declared in 16 of the country's 28 regions, including the capital, Sofia.
Nov 6 AFP story

WHO counters homeopathic vaccine advice in pregnancy
A WHO official criticized the Swiss Society of Homeopathic Physicians for advising pregnant women to avoid getting vaccinated against H1N1, the Associated Press (AP) reported Nov 7. Marie-Paule Kieny, director of the WHO's Initiative for Vaccine Research, said the advice could put pregnant women and their babies at risk for severe consequences. The WHO's vaccine advisory group has said the two adjuvanted vaccines licensed in Switzerland are safe for use in pregnant women.
Nov 7 AP story

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