Know the Facts: Precautions for Swine Flu

Experienced doctor talks symptoms, vaccinations

Should people refrain from shaking hands in a business setting?

Don’t feel awkward to forgo a handshake at business functions. If a handshake is unavoidable, refrain from touching your own mouth or facial area. Wash your hands immediately after leaving a business reception or use hand sanitizers frequently.

Why is there a gap in vaccination coverage for African Americans?

Vaccination is a problem in the African American community because there is an aura of mistrust of the healthcare system that goes back to slavery. In addition, there are other causes that reduce access to vaccinations, such as lack of insurance or lack of having a primary care provider.

Is there any truth to rumors that people should be afraid of taking a swine flu shot?

There was an outbreak of swine flu in 1976 and people who got vaccinated had a greater risk of getting Guillain-Barre syndrome, which caused nerve damage, muscle weakness, and sometimes paralysis. People still remember that, but it is actually very rare with only one or two cases per 100,000 a year. In addition, results from genetics on the swine flu virus show that this strain is significantly different from the one in 1976 and the vaccine is entirely different also.

Other points of interest from the Department of Health and Human Services:

–Swine flu vaccinations are free at all public health venues. Some providers may bill insurance for cost of administration, but the government encourages them to waive those fees.

–Although the government has ordered enough vaccines for everyone, it is still voluntary.

–The swine flu vaccination is currently being administered to five priority groups only including: health care workers, pregnant women, children and young adults between 6 months and 24 years of age, adults 25 to 64 with chronic health conditions and people living with or caring for babies under 6 months of age. Vaccinations for everyone else will be administered in late October.

–Infants younger than six months of age are too young to get the 2009 H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines.

–Vaccines will be administered at public health departments, school venues, work sites, and community centers, among other places

–If you have mild illness your provider might make the decision that you can’t be vaccinated.

–People with an egg allergy should NOT be vaccinated with neither the flu shot nor the nasal spray flu vaccine since the vaccine is grown in eggs. Healthy people 2 to 49 years old can receive a nasal spray flu vaccine.

–The swine flu vaccine is made the same way as the seasonal flu vaccine; only a different strain of influenza is put into the swine flu vaccine.

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