Tuesday, September 29, 2009

H1N1 "Swine" Flu Vaccine to be Available Shortly

On September 15, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its approval of four vaccines against the H1N1, or “swine” flu, virus. According to federal officials, 6-7 million doses of vaccine will be available starting the first week in October, with millions more doses to be shipped in the following weeks.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that the rate of doctor visits for flu-like symptoms is higher than typically expected at this time of year. However, the vaccines currently available for seasonal flu do not protect against the H1N1 virus.

Although there will eventually be enough H1N1 vaccines for everyone in the United States, healthy adults are encouraged to hold off on being vaccinated so that people who are most at-risk from the flu can receive the vaccine first. Those identified as at-risk include pregnant women, people who live with or care for children under 6 months old, health-care and emergency service workers, people from 6 months to 24 years old, and those from 25 to 64 years old who have a chronic health disorder, such as diabetes or a compromised immune system.

Since the flu is spread primarily by the coughing and sneezing of infected people, those who have the H1N1 flu are advised to stay home and limit their contact with other people to prevent the spread of infection. It is also important to wash your hands with soap and water or to use hand sanitizer to avoid spreading the virus through contact.

For more information visit the CDC's H1N1 "Swine" Flu page.

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