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The Rector’s Pastoral Letter to the Parish as We Approach Flu Season

 

Saint Matthew the Apostle, 21 September 2009

 

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As you are no doubt aware, flu season is once again upon us. Each year seasonal flu—the normal flu of various strains that itself can be a serious illness—strikes between five and twenty per-cent of the population. Another variety of flu, H1N1 (commonly called “Swine Flu”) has now reached pandemic proportions, a term that refers only to its geographic spread and not to its virulence. We are likely to have a serious flu season this year and I very much hope that each of you will take the steps necessary to stay healthy. God calls on us to care for ourselves, body and soul, and this includes being prepared and doing what we can to prevent illness and reduce its spread.

The C.D.C. and other government officials and religious leaders, encourage each and every one of us to get vaccinated for flu: both for seasonal flu and for H1N1 when the vaccine becomes available sometime in October. According to the C.D.C, “vaccination is especially important for people at high risk of serious flu complications, including young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.” The C.D.C. also advised that “vaccine is also important for health care workers, and other people who live with or care for high risk people to prevent giving the flu to those at high risk.”

As flu is transmitted through respiratory droplets of coughs and sneezes (“droplet spread”), people are also encouraged to wash their hands regularly and use alcohol based hand sanitisers. Employing single use tissues also help stem the spread of infection. You will find Kleenex and hand sanitisers throughout the church for your convenience.

In consultation with various authorities and experts, we are in the process of drafting plans to put in place should the seasonal flu, H1N1, or another strain become truly widespread and serious. We will make sure that the parish is well informed about these and other developments and recommendations and will use various methods of communication (email, website, Sunday leaflets, the parish newsletter, and the old
fashioned post) to ensure that information is available to everyone.

In any event, we would ask that parishioners who are sick with a respiratory illness or flu-like symptoms excuse themselves from public worship that day. If you stay home from church, please let one of the clergy or the parish office know as soon as possible so we can give you whatever support you require. We are all devoted to the pastoral care of all our members. It is the desire of the parish to remain open and available to all in need and to serve the community as best we can in and through any emergency while protecting the health of the parish. This is one of the important roles of churches in society and within communities.

God wishes life and health for us. God calls us to care for ourselves and for each other. God also knows that there is suffering in the world. God-in-Christ has experienced this suffering personally and shares with us in our pain, our grief, and our sorrows. He is in the midst of our struggles and our joys. God journeys with us through all our life, sustaining us with his Holy Spirit and his Sacraments, supporting us in our ministry, and ministering to us when we are unable to minister to others. All these rules and regulations and procedures and policies about the flu are ultimately about showing our love for God, our love for our neighbour, and our commitment to be a safe and healthy community that is able to stay open and minister to all those who need us.

With all my warmest wishes and prayers, I am,

Faithfully yours,

Andrew C. Blume+

 

Some flu resources:
More from the C.D.C. about seasonal flu.
More from the C.D.C. about H1N1 (Swine Flu).
Flu prevention tips from the C.D.C.