Occupational health and infection prevention and control should utilize both the precautionary principal and the scientific literature to ensure staff safety during an Influenza Pandemic. The literature indicates that N95 respirators should be used whenever the mode of transmission is not clearly understood. However, focusing just on the type of respiratory protection while necessary is not sufficient. A multi-pronged approach to staff safety should be used when planning for an Influenza Pandemic. This includes the implementation of Routine Practices and Additional Precautions in all healthcare institutions, optimal hand hygiene, fit-tested N95 respirators for staff providing direct care to patients with a virus of unknown epidemiology or which is known to be transmitted by the airborne route, vaccination of all staff when an effective vaccine is available and chemoprophylaxis against Influenza A. Patients will be best cared for when workers believe that everything possible is being done to protect their health.
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