How to Handle the H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic (cont.)

Who gets the H1N1 swine flu vaccine first?

Everyone should get vaccinated, but a few groups have priority:

  • Pregnant women

  • Day-care providers and other caregivers of children

  • Health-care workers and emergency medical personnel

  • Kids and young adults 6 months to 24 years of age

  • People 25-64 years of age who have medical conditions that increase the risk of flu complications, such as asthma

A few regulations apply to the H1N1 vaccines: The H1N1 nasal spray vaccine is only approved for healthy people 2-49 years of age. Also, the nasal spray is not approved for pregnant women, so they should get the flu shot. The H1N1 nasal spray vaccine is a live vaccine and should not be given to people taking certain medications that suppress the immune response.

How can I help prevent an H1N1 swine flu infection?

To protect yourself from swine flu and other flu viruses, you should

  • avoid close contact with people who are sick with a fever and/or cough;

  • try to confine an individual infected with swine flu to a spare bedroom and consider wearing a face mask when you interact with them;

  • wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with antibacterial soap and water;

  • use hand sanitizer gels if you can't wash your hands;

  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you've just washed your hands;

  • cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and wash your hands as soon as possible;

  • engage in healthy habits;

    • Get enough sleep (seven to eight hours a night).

    • Eat healthy, nutritious meals with lots of fruits and vegetables.

    • Exercise most days of the week.

  • if you start to feel sick, go home and stay home until you can get in to see your doctor.

How can I prepare for the H1N1 swine flu pandemic?

To minimize the impact a global swine flu pandemic would have on your daily life, you can

  • store extra supplies of food, water, and nonprescription drugs, such as pain relievers and cough and cold medications;

  • create a plan to ensure you can get prescriptions;

  • volunteer in your community to help assist in the event of an emergency;

  • secure other means of transportation if you use public transportation;

  • see if you can work from home and do not go into the office in the event that you develop H1N1 swine flu;

  • talk with teachers at your children's school for ideas on how to keep them actively learning in case schools are forced to close for extended time.