Public Health Agency of Canada

Public Health Agency of Canada

May 01, 2009 17:13 ET

Government of Canada Launches Public Information Campaign to Help Canadians Avoid Flu

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 1, 2009) - Today the Government of Canada launched the initial stages of a major public information Citizen Readiness Campaign to make Canadians and their families more aware of simple measures they can take to reduce the likelihood of getting the flu - including the H1N1 flu virus (human swine flu).

Print ads related to the campaign, which focus on how to prevent flu infection will appear across the country in major daily and weekly newspapers on Saturday May 2 and Monday May 4. In addition, print ads will appear in newspapers in Aboriginal communities starting on May 5.

"Our goal is to give Canadians advice on how to avoid the flu and on what to do if they already have symptoms," said Canada's Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq. "It is one of many measures we are taking to protect the health of Canadians at this time."

The campaign aims to help people take precautionary measures to prevent the spread of influenza. It has a number of phases that can be activated as the situation evolves.

"Knowledge is the best defence and we want to keep Canadians continually informed with useful and timely information concerning influenza," said Dr.David Butler-Jones, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer. "This campaign will equip Canadians to protect themselves further."

The online version of the Public Health Agency of Canada's Citizen Readiness Campaign also includes a Google AdWord feature which promotes the fightflu.ca web portal when Internet users search the term "flu" or related words. This web portal draws on the expertise of federal, provincial and territorial governments to provide information to Canadians on how to combat influenza.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is also disseminating its information and recommendations through a variety of social media tools, including Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and others.

The Public Health Agency of Canada will be seeking further input from Canadians in a variety of ways to find out what they know about the current outbreak, what information they need, and how they want to receive it. The results of this work will further inform how best to reach the most Canadians with the latest information and public health recommendations.

The advertising material in this campaign will be shared with the provinces/territories at no cost.

Steps to take to reduce the chances of becoming infected from H1N1 flu virus (human swine flu):

- Wash your hands often and thoroughly or use hand sanitizer.

- Cough and sneeze in your arm, not your hand

- Keep common surfaces and items clean and disinfected

- Stay home if you're sick, unless directed to seek medical care

Flu-like symptoms include:

- Fever;

- Cough;

- Runny nose;

- Sore throat;

- Body aches;

- Fatigue; and

- Lack of appetite.



BACKGROUND ON GOVERNMENT ACTIONS

The Government of Canada is taking action on a number of fronts, including:


- Public Information:


- Print ads that provide Canadians with information and advice will appear in major daily newspapers across Canada on Saturday May 2 and Monday May 4. In addition, print ads will appear in newspapers in First Nations and Inuit communities starting on May 5;

- The Public Health Agency of Canada has made its information more easily accessible via Internet searches on Google, and is also disseminating its recommendations through a variety of social media tools, including Facebook, Twitter, and others;

- A travel health notice has been issued advising Canadians on the precautions they should take when travelling outside of North America;

- A travel health warning has been issued advising Canadians to postpone non-essential travel to Mexico;

- Frequently asked questions have been posted to the Public Health Agency of Canada website www.phac.gc.ca;

- A 1-800 information line, namely 1-800-454-8302, is available seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) where Canadians can get more information;

- An information bulletin with health advice is being distributed to travellers going to and coming from Mexico to remind them of simple health precautions;

- Information including advice for travelers is being run on television screens in airport terminals; and

- Public health guidance documents are being provided to health care professionals.


- Public Health Action:


- Increasing our disease surveillance and constantly assessing the information that comes to us from all sources, using it to inform our future actions;

- Ensuring that the National Antiviral Stockpile can be mobilized quickly if it is needed;

- Researching vaccine development and growing the "seed stock" to be used to grow a H1N1 flu virus (human swine flu) vaccine;

- Initiating discussions with Glaxo-Smith Kline to begin the process of developing and producing the vaccine in accordance with a standing contract; and

- Working with provinces, territories and the health sector to develop protocols and guidelines to mitigate any potential impacts on the healthcare system and the rest of the community if the outbreak escalates.


- International Work:


- Quarantine Officers are now stationed at every Canadian airport receiving direct flights from Mexico to assess any ill passengers to provide advice and direction when treatment is needed;

- The Public Health Agency of Canada is assisting Mexico by testing its laboratory specimens for H1N1 flu virus (human swine flu);

- Canadian epidemiologists have been dispatched to Mexico to help Mexican officials investigate the outbreak; and

- Regular information updates are being provided by the Canadian embassy in Mexico to resident Canadians in that country.


- Monitoring and Coordination:


- The Government's Emergency Operations Centre has been elevated to full activation (Level 4), operating 24 hours a day and seven days a week;

- Daily coordination and information sharing conference calls are being held with provincial and territorial public health authorities and international partners; and,

- Officials remain vigilant in screening and reporting of unusual influenza-like illnesses, particularly in travellers returning from Mexico.


- Laboratory Testing:


- Provincial and territorial laboratories have been asked to send any unidentifiable influenza viruses and samples from patients with severe respiratory illnesses to Canada's National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, which is now operating 24 hours a day and seven days a week.


The Public Health Agency advises Canadians to:


- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, or use hand sanitizer.

- Cough and sneeze in your arm or sleeve.

- Keep doing what you normally do, but stay home if sick.

- Check the www.fightflu.ca for more information.

- Check www.voyage.gc.ca for travel notices and advisories.

- Talk to a health professional if you experience flu-like symptoms.

Contact Information

  • Public Health Agency of Canada
    Andrew McDermott
    Media Relations
    613-941-8189