Ontario's 10,000 pharmacists are ready to help their patients prepare for H1N1 "swine" flu

    How do you tell the difference between a cold, seasonal flu and H1N1?
    Do you know when you need a surgical mask ... and when you don't? Ask
    your pharmacist for an H1N1 Influenza Preparedness Information Kit

    TORONTO, Sept. 8 /CNW/ - Every community pharmacy across the province
will soon have H1N1 flu preparedness information kits ready to help Ontarians
prepare for and cope with the potential impact of a pandemic. This initiative
is consistent with community pharmacy's central role in the health care
system. The Ontario government has previously asked pharmacy to act as a
distribution point for public information and education materials on West Nile
Virus, flu shots and other important public health matters.
    The kits, which provide patients and consumers with straightforward,
useful information about H1N1 "swine" flu, are available now on the Ontario's
Community Pharmacies website, at www.ontariocommunitypharmacies.ca.
    "As health care providers in the community, pharmacists are accessible
and well-equipped to answer questions about H1N1," says Dr. Donald Low,
Microbiologist-in-Chief, Department of Microbiology at Mount Sinai Hospital.
"As we learned from the SARS experience, pharmacists play a vital role in
addressing people's questions and concerns."

    Pharmacists' Role in Public Health

    The Ontario Health Plan for an Influenza Pandemic 2008 was developed with
input from a number of pharmacists, reflecting the important role that these
health care providers play in a pandemic situation. The Ontario Agency for
Health Protection and Promotion supports the Chief Medical Officer of Health
in preparing for and responding to the impact of the pandemic in this
    "Pharmacists have the necessary training and knowledge to play an
increasingly important role in addressing public health concerns such as
H1N1," says Dr. Vivek Goel, President and Chief Executive Officer of the
Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion. "Their involvement in
pandemic planning was invaluable and patients across Ontario can rely on their
local pharmacists to help them with their questions about H1N1."

    The H1N1 Flu Preparedness Kit Dispels Myths

    Ontario's Community Pharmacies have developed and collected several key
documents containing practical information for pharmacists to share with their
patients. Materials in the H1N1 information kit include a handout to help
understand common myths and facts, a preparation checklist, and a summary on
"How to handwash" with soap and water and "How to handrub" using hand

    Some of the most common 'myths' that the kit helps to address are:
    -   Wearing a surgical mask when out in public places is the most
        effective method to prevent catching the H1N1 flu virus;
    -   It's easy to tell the difference between a cold, seasonal flu and
    -   I can catch H1N1 by eating pork.

    "The H1N1 flu preparedness information kit provides useful facts and
information to the people of Ontario and encourages them to seek advice from
their pharmacist," says Dennis Darby, Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario
Pharmacists' Association. "We invite anyone with a question or concern about
H1N1 to come and speak with a pharmacist in their community."
    Starting over the next two weeks, free copies of the kit can be obtained
by visiting any pharmacy in Ontario.

    About Ontario's Community Pharmacies

    Ontario's pharmacy community is made up of more than 100,000 people:
pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and other employees whose first
responsibility is to deliver quality, accessible health care to Ontarians.
Ontario's Community Pharmacies include independent owner-operated stores,
"banner" groups of independently-owned stores that work together, as well as
large and small pharmacy chains.
    Ontario's Community Pharmacies are supported by a range of associations
and organizations that represent both the profession and the neighbourhood
business of pharmacy, including the Ontario Pharmacists' Association, the
Independent Pharmacists of Ontario, the Canadian Association of Chain Drug
Stores and the Ontario Chain Drug Association.
    Ontario's Community Pharmacies are dedicated to providing trusted
one-on-one personal health care to our patients. The organization plays an
important and growing role as vital health care infrastructure province-wide -
promoting public health objectives and ensuring reliable emergency
preparedness in the case of an acute need, such as a potential infectious
disease pandemic.
    Visit the Ontario's Community Pharmacies website at

For further information:

For further information: Jill McKinlay-Morris/Ellen Woodger, (416)
859-8714/(416) 483-2358, jill_mckinlay@hotmail.com,
ellen.woodger@sympatico.ca; Lindsay George, Ontario Pharmacists' Association,
(416) 441-0788 ext. 4236, lgeorge@opatoday.com

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Ontario Pharmacists' Association

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