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Spreading the Word About H1N1 Virus

Kids are back in school, it's influenza season, and the vaccine for the H1N1/2009 strain - declared by the World Health Organization a global pandemic due to the spread of the disease by June - is becoming available.

Cable companies, among others, have been gearing up education efforts about the H1N1 flu. Last week, board members of the Cable and Telecommunications Human Resources Association (with 75 member companies and 1,631 HR professionals) discussed the issue. CTHRA told The Wire some of the takeaways:

*Companies are emphasizing common sense. For example, all are encouraging employees with flu-like symptoms to stay home.
*Several companies are offering the regular flu shot and a few plan to make the H1N1 vaccine available at work if they can secure it (the extent of the availability remains a question mark for these human-resource managers). Some are paying for the cost of the vaccines, whereas others share the cost with employees.
*None of the companies have issued masks to field employees for use in homes.

Discovery Channel is reinforcing the common-sense message, working with the U.S. Health and Human Services Department to help inform the public about ways to protect themselves and prevent the spread of the virus.

Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, hosts of popular science-explanation series Mythbusters, star in a public-service announcement on the network that uses a high-speed camera to show the invisible aftermath of a sneeze and counsels viewers to stay home if they feel sick. It airs on Discovery Channel from Monday, Oct. 12 through Nov. 8, including primetime airings during the show.

"A big myth about the annual flu vaccination and even the H1N1 vaccinations, soon to be available, is that they alone can make people sick," HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a release. "The flu cannot be caught from a flu shot; however, if people choose not to get vaccinated, they run the risk of becoming sick or making those around them sick."

A Web site,, features "Top Five Myths About H1N1" from Discovery Communications-owned