Precautions Churches Can Take Against H1N1

Here are some precautions churches can take regarding the H1N1 (swine flu) virus. These ideas have been gathered from here and there.

  • Encourage people to get a flu shot, and make people aware of where they can get one. Offer church funds to pay for flu shots. 
  • Make sure church staffmembers get vaccinated.
  • Encourage people to stay home if they are sick, if they feel like they might be getting sick, and for a couple days after they’ve had the flu. Encourage children with ill household members to stay home.
  • Take extra precautions with at risk populations: anyone under age 24, and especially children under 5.
  • Be very strict with nursery workers, since infants are at greatest risk. If an adult has had the flu recently or been exposed to persons with the flu, find someone else to serve in the nursery. You might require that nursery workers be vaccinated.
  • Churches might want to take extra care in cleaning areas where people congregate–sanctuary, lobby, children’s area.
  • Place hand sanitizer in high-traffic areas for public use.
  • Announce a temporary alternative to handshaking, like just saying hello, giving a little hand-wave, nod, or bow. Don’t feel obligated to shake hands or give a hug. If you have a greeting time during the service, don’t force people into this by saying, “Shake hands with three people you don’t know.” Provide a substitute greeting.
  • If you do shake hands with people at church, be sure to wash your hands afterwards (good advice even when it’s not flu season).
  • Have ushers, children’s workers, and persons serving communion use hand sanitizer.
  • Encourage people to cover a cough or sneeze. Use your elbow or shoulder instead of your hands when a tissue or handkerchief isn’t available.
  • Some frequently-touched areas to clean with an alcohol-based cleaner: doorknobs, desks, counters, keyboards, lightswitches, crash bars, drinking fountains, bathroom levers and knobs, toys, potluck utensils, refrigerator handles, remote controls.
  • Some churches have announced that pastors will, for the time being, no longer shake hands with parishioners after the service, and have done away with holding hands while singing, reciting the Lord’s Prayer, etc.
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