This Week in Swine Flu: Vaccines Approved!, Masks vs. Hand-Washing

By Eliza Strickland | September 17, 2009 2:49 pm

swine-flu-newsThe big news in swine flu this week: Vaccines from four drugmakers have been approved for use in the United States, and with the companies’ production lines cranking there will be plenty to go around. Clinical trials have also shown that a single shot is enough to create a strong immune response, which means stockpiles will go twice as far as they would have if two shots were necessary. Said U.S. Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: “There will be vaccines for everyone.” … The first doses should be available within the next four weeks, according to the FDA [Reuters].

But as flu season is already ramping up, some people are wondering what they can do to protect themselves until the vaccine is available. One enterprising reporter decided to find out what her daily routine would be like if she wore a paper jumpsuit, mask, goggles, and gloves provided by a company called Flu Armor. But experts are reminding the public that face masks, which became a symbol of the initial outbreak in Mexico last spring, are really designed to stop the spread of droplets from the person wearing the mask, not to protect the wearer from viruses [Los Angeles Times].

The most effective preventive measure is also a simple one: wash your hands with soap often, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Experts note that hand-to-face contact has a surprising impact on health. Germs can enter the body through breaks in the skin or through the membranes of the eyes, mouth and nose [The New York Times].

The swine flu outbreak appears to be underway at colleges and universities around the country. A survey by the American College Health Association found influenza-like illness at 72 percent of schools surveyed as of Sept. 4…. Cornell University, in Upstate New York, has reported more than 520 cases, according to the Ithaca Journal newspaper. A Cornell junior died Friday of complications related to flu [Washinton Post]; it was the second reported flu death of a U.S. college student this academic year. On the other side of the globe, Egypt took the drastic step of closing all schools and universities until October.

Although the continuing spread of the H1N1 virus and the massive vaccination effort are likely to keep health care providers busy in the ensuing months, one expert offered a cheering prediction: Dr. Marc Lipsitch of Harvard University says the death toll from swine flu is likely to be lower than previously estimated. Lipsitch says that new estimates suggest that the death rate compares to a moderate year of seasonal influenza…. “It’s mildest in kids. That’s one of the really good pieces of news in this pandemic” [Reuters].

Related Content:
80beats: This Week in Swine Flu: Good News on Vaccines, Bad News in China
80beats: This Week in Swine Flu: Elmo, Mobile Apps, & Back-to-School Fears
80beats: This Week in Swine Flu: How Many Deaths, Vaccine in Sight & Tough Oldsters

Image: iStockphoto

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine
  • Do what I

    If there is a die off, can you finally see the stars at night? Will the sky be as blue as it was on 9/12, and 13? Will they move the thundering flightpath from over my apartment when the lines go down at O’hare? Will the filth and stench of our urban places diminish when so d___ many of us aren’t there to pollute them?

    Good luck suckers, I’m goin fishing.

  • http://xhotgossipx.blogspot.com tracy collins

    this sympton checker information released in the UK by the health officials appears to be useful now http://xhotgossipx.blogspot.com/2009/09/swine-flu-symptoms-checker.html

  • http://www.swineflubritain.co.uk Sean

    The second wave of swine could have arrived in the UK, more information can be found at Swine Flu Britain

  • Christina Viering

    Good to know.

  • http://discovermag.com don

    ah! once again, good ol’ common sense say’s it all!

  • Shannon Hancock

    Summary:
    Vaccines for the swine flu have been approved in the U.S. and production lines are are cranking, making plenty for everyone. Flu season has already begun, and a college student has already died from flu related complications even though the swine flu rate is likely to be lower this year.

    Opinion:
    I believe that everyone should be cautious of flu season. It is easily spread and as said in the article, we all need to wash our hands. It is also important to try and not to touch your face because hand-to-face contact has surprising impact on health. I think this article is informative about the newly released vaccine, and also gives good tips for how to prevent flu. At the same time I think swine flu has been blown out of proportion and has kind of created panic. Even though we should be cautious of the flu, I do not think the media should have made it such a scare. If we take care of our health, we are doing the best we can to prevent flu.

  • http://hotmail.com Marc Franco

    A new vaccine for the swine flu (H1N1) has been approved in the US. there is an abundant supply because production lines are efficient. The flu season has just begun, and there has already been a death of a college student from this flu. Although this person died early on, the death toll of the Swine flu are appearing to be lower in the near future. The United States is not the only country dealing with the swine flu.

    This vaccine impacts me greatly. the community is most affected by the vaccine. this means there is less of a chance of me or somebody i know getting the Swine flu. we need to realize that this is not the end of the flu, and that was still have to be precautious of the way we spread germs. Supporting the article, we need to start washing our hands more and in greater conscience. I am sometimes guilty of not washing my hands correctly, so this article made me realize how important washing your hands can be. the “hype” about the swine flu has caused many people to be overconcerned. This has good and bad sides to it. this will cause people to follow procedures for overcoming the flu, but it also puts hardship in the heart of Americans. Hopefully the Swine Flu is oversome by a healthy environment, so MY school doesn’t have to get shut down!!!

  • Kimberly Kasten

    The article above mentions a new vacine for the dangerous Swine Flu. Many families are terrified that either themselves or their loved ones will get this disease and nothing will end well. Some people were considering wearing masks on heir face and rubber gloves on their hands. However, the most effecive preventation of the Swine Flu is to wash your hands with soap or alcohol based hand sanitizer. The Swine Flu seems to appear in at colleges and universities around the country. Since the doctors are still working on the new vaccines for the Swine Flu, the death rate due to Swine Flu will decrease dramatically once the vaccine is out on the market.
    This will greatly effect the community, the whole world and myself. If the vaccine that is being created works then everyone I know, all my friends and family memebers will be safe from this terrible disease. Tbe Swine Flu is a scary disease that can change a persons life very quickly, knowing that there is a vaccine being made and will come out soon then I won’t need to worry about getting sick. I also won’t need to worry about my friends and family members getting sick and losing them because of a terrible disease. This article affected me in many ways, mainly making me feel better and safer and healthier.

  • Jay

    Don’t buy into this vaccination B.S..

    The swine flu was first found in humans in 1918. The first (I believe) swine/H1N1 vaccination was used on millions of Americans in 1976 and is the cause of neurological problems for many of those people.

    Swine flu is NOT as bad as the media wants you to think. Any person with a relatively-good immune system can overcome it without any problem.

    Do you really trust what is in this vaccine? I have never had a flu shot and I won’t be starting with this one. This is nothing more than a money-making scheme for the companies producing these so-called “vaccines”.

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