Sanofi-Aventis today started a recall of 800,000 doses of H1N1 flu vaccine intended for infants between 6 and 35 months old, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Even though the vaccines aren't considered dangerous - the dose is too small, but still likely to be effective, according to health officials - the vaccine is being recalled.
The recall is a reminder that not all techniques for preventing the flu are effective. The Food and Drug Administration and the CDC are promoting a simple strategy for avoiding the "swine flu" H1N1 virus:
Get vaccinated, especially if you are pregnant, and get your kids (up to age 24) and those who take care of your kids. The Daily Green recently asked its Facebook friends if they would vaccinate their children, and many said "no" ... emphatically. Officials say that the swine flu vaccine should have the same risk profile as the seasonal flu vaccine, so you can decide based on past experience.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. If you don't have a tissue handy, cough or sneeze into your upper arm, not your hands.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. (Other hand sanitizers may help if soap, water or an alcohol-based cleaner isn't available.)
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, and avoid close contact with sick people.
One thing that is not effective is antibacterial soap. The swine flu, like any seasonal flu, is a virus -- not a bacteria. Thorough scrubbing will do the trick, whether the soap has antibacterial properties or not, and using traditional soap is better for the environment.
Also inadvisable: Believing claims on the Web about products that purport to fight swine flu. The FDA has begun tracking down, calling out and penalizing companies that make such false claims. Here's a rundown of the 85 products the FDA has singled out so far, along with the agency's widget so you can avoid fraudulent swine flu products.
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