Pharmacists, retail clinicians weigh in on swine flu

5/19/2009

NEW YORK By now, most people have heard of the A (H1N1) influenza virus, more popularly known as swine flu, but pharmacists and retail clinicians have been hearing a lot about it, according to an online Drug Store News survey of pharmacists and retail clinicians.

Among the pharmacists, 82.3% reported an increase in the number of patients inquiring about flu since news of the swine flu began to appear in the media. Retail clinicians reported a similar increase, of 85.7%. The largest percentages of both groups – 36.6% of retail clinicians and 35.4% of pharmacists – reported five or more questions per week about swine flu from patients. By contrast, 5.4% of retail clinicians and 11.4% of pharmacists reported hearing no questions in a given week.

“How does it spread? Is there a vaccine? Do we need to wear masks? Can I get treatment to prevent the flu?” one retail clinician wrote, listing questions that patients had frequently asked.

Many pharmacists and retail clinicians said they advised patients to practice good hygiene to help prevent the spread of the flu, such as frequent hand washing and covering the mouth when coughing and sneezing, as well as staying home when they stay sick. Still, one pharmacist commented that the swine flu “is being overplayed by the media and the president.”

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, there were 5,469 confirmed cases of the A (H1N1) flu in the United States and six deaths as of Tuesday morning.

Click here to see a larger version of the survey results.

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