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Why Half of Idahoans May Not Follow Flu Advice

September 29, 2009

BOISE, Idaho - Up to half of Idahoans may ignore the advice of top health officials when it comes to H1N1 flu and seasonal flu prevention. While they may be vigilant in washing their hands and covering sneezes and coughs, they may not stay home or keep kids home from school if experiencing flu symptoms, simply because they can't afford to do it.

Donna Wade, the executive director of the Idaho Women's Network, says telling working people to stay home when so many don't even have one paid sick day is an opportunity to talk about the need for better work policies for families.

"If they don't have any vacation time, or anything like that to use, then they should go without pay? Who can do that? It's not doable for most people."

Wade's group has been pushing for paid-leave policies to help Idaho families find work-life balance. Many small businesses are traditionally against such policies because of financial concerns.

Idaho State AFL-CIO president Dave Whaley says employers may want to revisit their 'paid time-off for sickness policies' to protect their bottom lines as flu spreads.

"It's a benefit to not only the employee, but the employer, to be able to continue to operate without having a major swine flu outbreak in their employment."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises staying home until flu-related fever has naturally subsided for 24 hours, which can be between seven and 10 days from the onset of symptoms.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - ID