Government Closely Monitors Swine Flu Vaccine
The government is closely monitoring the safety of the new H1N1 swine flu vaccine amid people's concerns.
NPR reports: "The military will be scanning its health care databases to see if there are any unusual flurries of disease among those who receive the H1N1 vaccine. A safety system also exists for the public. Called the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), it is run jointly by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration. Both agencies will be paying special attention to the system, which relies on doctors and vaccine receivers to report any illness after vaccination. The system has been up and running for years, but agencies have assigned extra staff to pay closer attention."
The CDC does not expect any problems but wants to be extra vigilant. NPR notes: "During the last swine flu vaccine campaign in 1976, several hundred people developed a rare muscular condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome. While a connection between the vaccine and the syndrome was never conclusively proven, new cases will be compared against the normal occurrence rate" (Silberner, 10/14).
Meanwhile, flu worries are causing a boom in the sale of hand sanitizers. NPR reports in a separate story: "More than $117 million worth of the clear gels were sold in the United States last year, according to Information Resources Inc. of Chicago. The company's figures don't include retail giant Walmart, but they show that overall there was a 17 percent increase in hand sanitizer sales in the year ending Sept. 6. For August, IRI reported a 50 percent jump in sales over the same month in 2008. Ohio-based Gojo Industries invented Purell, the best-selling hand sanitizer. ... Recently, Gojo issued a statement saying the company was experiencing high demand, and it asked customers not to hoard its product" (Brady, 10/16).