Pork Checkoff promotes flu vaccines, sick leave for pig farms
The Pork Checkoff today said that flu vaccinations for people will help protect the health of pigs, and that workers who get sick should be able to use sick leave.
“Everyone associated with the farm should be vaccinated whether they work directly with pigs or not,” said Heather Fowler, director of producer and public health for the Des Moines-based Pork Checkoff. “That is the best thing producers can do to protect their families, co-workers and pigs from the flu.”
Fowler noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months of age or older be vaccinated annually against seasonal influenza. The vaccine is available now, so people should be vaccinated as soon as possible to prompt their immune system to prepare for flu season, which typically stretches from October to May, Fowler added.
“Equally important, farms need to have sick-leave policies in place that encourage workers to stay home if they are suffering from flu-like like respiratory symptoms,” Fowler said.
“While it’s especially important to stay off the farm, people need to stay away from public places and take time to rest and recover. This will help shorten the duration and impact of the infection.”
Influenza is a virus, and infections can last three to seven days, although a cough can persist for more than two weeks.
“People with active infections can be contagious for several days,” Fowler said. “They should not return to work for at least 24 hours after their fever breaks without using a fever-reducing medication.”
The Pork Checkoff’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus Handbook also recommends other on-farm practices.