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President recommends vaccine, precautions as nation braces for resurgence of swine flu – MedCity Morning Read, Sept. 2, 2009

President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged Americans to be prepared for the second wave of swine flu this fall, recommending both a vaccine for the virus, known as novel H1N1, and “common-sense steps” to stay healthy.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged Americans to be prepared for the second wave of swine flu this fall, recommending both a vaccine for the virus, known as novel H1N1, and “common-sense steps” to stay healthy.

The president said the United States is making progress on the development of a safe and effective H1N1 vaccine, according to a transcript. He added that a flu-shot program is expected to begin soon.

“This program will be completely voluntary, but it will be strongly recommended,” Obama said, following a meeting with senior administration officials.

Reuters has reported that the government expects to have 45 million to 52 million doses of H1N1 flu vaccine by mid-October, and 195 million by year’s end.

In the meantime, Obama included in his remarks some reminders for the American people: “Stay home if you’re sick. Wash your hands frequently. Cover your sneezes with your sleeve, not your hands.”

For the “Sesame Street” set, Elmo is offering the same advice. The Muppet and his friend Gordon (actor Roscoe Orman) star in a campaign, launched Tuesday, that is designed to encourage American children and families to practice healthy habits.

The World Health Organization has indicated that a pandemic of H1N1 flu already is underway. The virus was first detected in the United States in April, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which notes on its Web site that most people have recovered without requiring medical treatment. Still, as of Aug. 22, the CDC had received reports of 8,843 hospitalizations and 556 deaths associated with H1N1 flu.

During the fall and winter, the H1N1 virus could infect 30 to 50 percent of the U.S. population, according to a recent report of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

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