"They are uncomfortable over prolonged use and should only be worn one at a time," said Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations. "Numerous studies indicate the efficacy of the masks decreases with frequent reuse, and they become smelly and intolerable to the user."
In addition, Garrett pointed out that N95 respirators are no longer manufactured in the U.S. and that importing them from China, India and other Asian countries could prove challenging if those countries feel the masks are essential to their own populations.
One-Dose Vaccine Could Improve Compliance
Meanwhile, a one-dose H1N1 vaccine has emerged from Swiss drug manufacturer Novartis and a domestic variety from China has been publicized as well.
Although the potential efficacy and side effects of these vaccines remains to be determined, experts say the advantages of a one-dose vaccine would be the ability to vaccinate twice the number of people and decrease the time it takes until a patient develops immunity.
"Compliance is a critical factor in vaccine success rates," said Dr. Harley Rotbart, professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center at Denver. "If we need a single dose for seasonal flu and two doses for H1N1, all within a few weeks of each other, poor compliance is a risk. Hence, a single dose H1N1 vaccine would be a major advantage."
Despite experiencing swine flu first hand, Davis said she does not plan to vaccinate her children or get vaccinated herself against seasonal influenza or the H1N1 virus.
"To me that just seems a little extreme. I worry about side effects from the vaccine," Davis said. "My kids are just perfectly healthy. I'm going to handle [their illnesses] as I would any other flu."
Since Davis's children have no underlying chronic medical conditions, they are at a significantly lower risk for developing complications from swine flu even if the do become infected a second time.
Although the CDC recommends that all those who are eligible receive the seasonal and H1N1 vaccines, Frieden said that most people who get swine flu will not need treatment.
Although the number of deaths due to swine flu has climbed into the hundreds, it is well within the range of the average number of annual influenza-related deaths, which the CDC estimates is about 36,000.
But Frieden said it was unusual for flu cases and deaths to carry over into the summer months the way it has this year. And while the typical population for which influenza is fatal is very old or very young, H1N1 fatalities seem to be occurring across age groups. And they are still unsure as to the relative severity of the H1N1 virus compared to the seasonal influenza virus.
"It is clear that H1N1, at this time, is far less lethal, although quite contagious," said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at the Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
The CDC has not made predictions about what the impact of the H1N1 virus will be into the fall and winter but they continue to recommend vaccination, hand washing, proper cough and sneeze etiquette, and staying home to recover from illness to prevent infections.