Cabinet secretaries issue swine flu guidelines

Employers should draw up plans for this fall's flu season that encourage employees with flu-like symptoms or illness to stay home, prepare for short staffing and perhaps let high-risk employees work from home, three Cabinet secretaries said on Wednesday as they announced guidelines for businesses.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano held a news conference to release the guidelines in anticipation of a return of the swine flu.

"One of the most important things that employers can do is to make sure their human resources and leave policies are flexible and follow public health guidance," Sebelius said.

Employers also should consider offering the vaccine against seasonal flu and encourage employees to be vaccinated against seasonal and H1N1 flu, according to the guidance.

"Seasonal flu vaccine will be ready. It's ready in some places right now. It's certainly going to be widely available in September, so encouraging employees to get that shot and get it out of the way is a good first step," said Sebelius.

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