Pandemic FAQs: Prevention, Personal Protective Equipment and Health Issues


The World Health Organization declared the swine flu pandemic officially over Tuesday, months after many national authorities started canceling vaccine orders and shutting down hot lines as the disease ebbed from the headlines.

--Fox News.com, Aug. 10 2010 




The following answers are based on the “STATE OF MINNESOTA AGENCY PANDEMIC INFLUENZA SERVICE CONTINUATION” document, last revised September 1, 2006. View the
complete document

Where possible, answers specific to Anoka-Ramsey Community College Cambridge and Coon Rapids Campuses have been substituted.

See also:

Prevention, Personal Protective Equipment and Health Issues FAQs

  1. If a vaccination becomes available, will the state allow employees time off to obtain a vaccination?
  2. Will the vaccine be offered to employees without cost?
  3. Is the Minute Clinic equipped to test employees for the pandemic flu?
  4. If protective equipment is recommended (face mask) will I be provided one or am I expected to procure my own.
  5. If I think the face mask I have is better than the one I am provided with, may I use my own?
  6. If I don’t think protective gear is necessary, but it’s being provided, must I use it?
  7. If an employee travels to a country/location that is experiencing a pandemic, can we restrict them from coming to work? If so, what type of leave?
  8. Regarding the previous question, for how long? Who decides if they need to be quarantined?
  9. If we have the outbreak, what daily strategies are we going to implement to help prevent the spread of the infection?
  10. How will the employer deal with employees who are "quarantined" by public health officials?
  11. Will the state be doing anything proactive to reduce the likelihood of spreading the flu such as installing waterless sanitizers in the offices and limiting public events/access?
  12. How will EAP help us with the trauma caused by employees losing family members and co-workers? Do we have a plan for recovery after the event?
  13. Is the State developing requirements for distributing N-95 respirators?
  14. Should each state agency purchase their own N95 respirators for employees?
  15. Will the state request Department of Administration Plant Management Cleaning staff to increase the frequency of office cleaning and sanitation?

Prevention, Personal Protective Equipment and Health Issues

General Policy: The state will follow the guidelines of the Department of Health and other Health organizations.

  1. If a vaccination becomes available, will the state allow employees time off to obtain a vaccination?
    It is expected that the state will arrange for worksite vaccination when vaccine becomes available. Employees would be granted reasonable release time to receive the vaccination at the worksite. In the event that worksite vaccination clinics are not possible, all employees will be encouraged to receive a vaccination when available and standard sick leave policy will apply.

    State Agency Pandemic Influenza Service Continuation Guide Draft document

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  2. Will the vaccine be offered to employees without cost?
    Yes, if the employee is covered by the Advantage Health Plan. Vaccines are covered as preventive services (no deductible, no co-pay) under the Advantage Health Plan.

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  3. Is the Minute Clinic equipped to test employees for the pandemic flu?
    If a patient presented to MinuteClinic w/ suspected Avian flu symptoms, they would be referred out to an urgent care or emergency room. MinuteClinics are set up to see simple, uncomplicated medical issues and are not equipped to test for Avian flu.

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  4. If protective equipment is recommended (face mask) will I be provided one or am I expected to procure my own.
    Personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks and/or respirators will be provided to employees by the state when employees are required to conduct work tasks for which the MN Dept of Health or the employer recommends PPE.

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  5. If I think the face mask I have is better than the one I am provided with, may I use my own?
    Yes, subject to prior review by the employer to ensure that the face mask/respirator meets the minimum recommended level of protection for the circumstances.

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  6. If I don’t think protective gear is necessary, but it’s being provided, must I use it?
    Yes, if it is required by the employer, you must use it.

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  7. If an employee travels to a country/location that is experiencing a pandemic, can we restrict them from coming to work? If so, what type of leave?
    Maybe. “Quarantine” of individuals will be based on recommendations made by the MN Dept of Health and/or CDC. Individuals restricted from the workplace may still be able to perform work assignments by alternate means (e.g. telecommuting).

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  8. Regarding the previous question, for how long? Who decides if they need
    to be quarantined?
    “Quarantine” of individuals will be based on recommendations made by the MN Dept of Health and/or CDC.

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  9. If we have the outbreak, what daily strategies are we going to implement to help prevent the spread of the infection?
    State agencies will be provided with the most current public health recommendations regarding infection control. Agencies will be encouraged to employ social distancing into their work. Increased cleaning of frequently touched surfaces will be recommended.

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  10. How will the employer deal with employees who are "quarantined" by
    public health officials?
    Quarantined employees able to perform required work assignments by alternate means (e.g. telecommuting) will be expected to work. Quarantined employees unable to perform their required assignments while away from the worksite will be allowed to use appropriate forms of leave.

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  11. Will the state be doing anything proactive to reduce the likelihood of spreading the flu such as installing waterless sanitizers in the offices and limiting public events/access?
    Installation and use of waterless sanitizers in state work places is expected to be as needed depending on needs of each work place and the type of work being completed. Employers should educate employees on various personal infection control procedures.
    State agencies will be provided with the most current public health recommendations regarding infection control. Agencies will be encouraged to employ social distancing into their work.
    Increased cleaning of frequently touched surfaces and hand hygiene will be
     recommended.

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  12. How will EAP help us with the trauma caused by employees losing family
    members and co-workers? Do we have a plan for recovery after the event?
    State EAP services are recognized as a critical service for state employees and dependents during times of crisis. DOER will be working with its contract vendor to assure that EAP services will be available to employees during a pandemic. Delivery of services maybe restricted to phone consulting and web based resources so as to practice the need for social distancing and self-shielding to limit the spread of illness. Recovery will include critical incident stress debriefing and other services to assist employees and agency management in coping with events and a new reality in the work environment.

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  13. Is the State developing requirements for distributing N-95 respirators?
    Distribution and use of respirators will be in accordance with Respiratory Protection
    Standard. 29CFR 1910.134

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  14. Should each state agency purchase their own N95 respirators for employees?
    Agencies that have employees with an occupational need for respiratory protection as recommended by OSHA or public health organizations should acquire their own supply of respirators. Currently respirators are only recommended for employees that have direct patient care responsibilities or those with direct exposure to infected items such as dead fowl. Agencies planning to stockpile respirators should work with Administration and Health.

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  15. Will the state request Department of Administration Plant Management Cleaning staff to increase the frequency of office cleaning and sanitation?
    The Pandemic Influenza Executive Committee is working with Administration to develop a custodial plan to be used during a pandemic. Custodial services are expected to focus on frequently touched surfaces or items.