News & Events

CDC Set to Weaken H1N1 Protections for Healthcare, Other Workers

Here is CDC’s plan to reduce respiratory protections for healthcare and other workers against H1N1.  It has been reported that with this notice that the CDC will propose to reduce protections by eliminating the recommended use of respirators during the direct treatment and care of suspected or known H1N1 patients.   Respirators will only be recommended during aerosol generating procedures.  When you consider that H1N1 differs from seasonal flu as it disproportionately sickens and kills children and working age adults, and that the H1N1 vaccine is not 100% effective, we should question whether this reduction in protection is prudent and warranted.   The process of review for this document is that after HHS internal review, HHS will then share the document with DOL/OSHA and other affected federal agencies.   It will then be published in the Federal Register; where we can assume it will be extremely difficult to reverse.  – Submitted by Bill Borwegen, SEIU
Questions and Answers about Updating Guidance on Infection Control Measures for Influenza in Healthcare Settings
May 3, 2010 1:30 PM ET

Is the Interim Guidance on Infection Control Measures for 2009 H1N1 Influenza in Healthcare Settings, Including Protection of Healthcare Personnel, being updated?
Yes. As noted in the 2009 guidance introduction, the guidance was intended to apply to the unique circumstances of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, and to be updated as new information became available.

Why is CDC updating this guidance now?
When the interim infection control guidance for 2009 H1N1 was posted, substantial uncertainties existed regarding the severity of disease and health impact of the novel H1N1 influenza strain, a high proportion of the population was susceptible to the new virus, and the vaccine was not available. Circumstances have changed significantly since then.  First, a safe and effective vaccine has become widely available.  Second, we now have information about the number of cases of disease, hospitalizations, and deaths caused by 2009 H1N1, which can be compared to historical seasonal influenza data.  The current circumstances justify an update of the recommendations. 

Further, recommendations for prevention of seasonal flu in healthcare facilities are currently found throughout the influenza section of the CDC web site.  In updating this particular guidance, CDC will consolidate recommendations into a comprehensive, easily accessible document.

How is the guidance being updated?
Currently, experts at the CDC and other federal agencies are reviewing and editing the guidance, after which time input from the public will be sought.

How will the public have input into the new guidance?
After the guidance is reviewed by experts within the federal government, it will be published in the Federal Register.  In that way, all who are interested may review and submit comments on the content, and CDC will consider those comments before finalizing and publishing the guidance.   CDC will put an announcement on our website when the draft guidance is published in the Federal Register.