Where to Get Cheap Anti-Flu Supplies


Perhaps the best form of swine flu prevention is available free of charge. The no-cost common sense advice that any mom could tell you already: Cover your mouth when you cough, use tissues, wash your hands and don't hang out with folks you know are sick.

Thank you, CDC.

Still, some folks want to spend money to feel better: Walgreens (Stock Quote: WAG) and other stores are setting up special sections where you can find hand sanitizers, masks and disinfecting wipes in one place right near the cash register. Some stores are selling out of these items completely.

“We’re still going to be well-stocked…if there is a store that’s sold out, they’re getting re-supplied very quickly,” says Robert Elfinger, a Walgreens spokesman. And if any locations are sold out, Elfinger says, workers are instructed to direct customers to a nearby store, even a competitor’s.

If you’re concerned about contracting swine flu, here is what you should know about the products all your neighbors are buying right now:

Protective Face Mask
Why you might need it: Both common surgical masks as well as special N95 respirators made by companies like 3M (Stock Quote: MMM), filter small particles including droplets dispersed by sneezing and coughing.

Where you can get it: Face masks are selling out at home improvement stores like Home Depot (Stock Quote: HD) and Lowe’s (Stock Quote: LOW).

Price: N95 respirators, which have a close fit to the face, cost $15.49 for a 10-pack at UtilitySafeguard.com

Hand Sanitizer
Why you might need it: If you can’t wash your hands in hot soapy water every time you shake hands with someone or touch a shared surface, hand sanitizer can be effective in killing swine flu, seasonal flu, common cold and other germs.

Where you can get it: The cheaper hand sanitizers are sold out at many online retailers, but the more expensive and smelly brands may still be available.  For example, an eight-ounce bottle of organic lemon scented Eo Hand Sanitizer is available on CVS.com for $7.19.

Price: The usual price for an eight ounce bottle of Johnson & Johnson’s Purell hand sanitizer (Stock Quote: JNJ) is about $4 in stores. If you see prices significantly higher than that, it may be scare-flation pricing.

Disinfecting Wipes
Why you might need it: St. Francis Preparatory School, where the first cases of swine flu were discovered in New York City, was closed this week and was sanitized by a 50-person cleaning crew.  Disinfectant wipes like those made from Clorox (Stock Quote: CLX) and Lysol are a more reasonable option if you’re worried about germs that could spread the swine flu or the seasonal flu.

Where you can get it: Clorox disinfecting wipes are available grocery and drug stores and online at AceHardware.com.

Price: $3.49 for a 35-count tub.

Prescription Preventions
Why you might need it: Tamiflu and Relenza are recommended as a preventive measure only for those in direct contact with someone with the flu or as a treatment for someone who has the flu. Drug maker Roche has ramped up its production of Tamiflu, which along with GlaxoSmithKline’s (Stock Quote: GSK) drug Relenza make up government stockpiles for the treatment and prevention of the flu.

Where you can get it: Some drug stores have sold out of Tamiflu, though the CVS (Stock Quote: CVS) near St. Francis still had some on hand Friday.

The Price: On the consumer side, the drugs are not-so-cheap options at $60 to $100 out of pocket. You can also buy them online (you’ll need a prescription) at Drugstore.com (Stock Quote: DSCM), where a course of Tamiflu costs $92.99 and a course of Relenza costs $63.99.

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Swine Flu & You

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