Pharmas Market with Mike Huckman

What Not To Wear At Sanofi-Pasteur

Stacy and Clinton definitely had nothing to do with it, but Sanofi-Pasteur (the vaccines division of Sanofi-Aventis ) greets visitors with a "What Not To Wear" brochure.

The glossy pages detail the strict dress code at a vaccine plant. I'd never been in one before, so it's all new to me.

I've been in so-called clean rooms at several drug, biotech and medical device companies, but never anything like this.

It's here in Pennsylvania's Poconos that they're making the H1N1 injectable flu vaccine. It's the only flu shot plant on U.S. soil.

Usually you just have to put a lab coat or a jumpsuit over your clothes plus maybe some protective eyewear or a hairnet or some booties or a combo of those items.

Here, you start by taking off any rings, watches and jewelry. Makeup is also a no-no. Then you take off your street clothes, throw on surgical scrubs, a hairnet, glasses and not one...not two...but three pairs of booties to tear off as you escalate and de-escalate from one level of clean room to another. One employee said half in jest that they go through so many booties, he'd like to invest in the manufacturer.

You can't go through the next door until the door behind you closes. Handwashing and hand sanitizer squirts are interspersed throughout.

Our camera and sound guy also had to have all of their equipment wiped down with disinfectant before going in.

Some employees who work in super-sensitive rooms with the vaccine that doesn't have preservative in it look like hazmat responders. They can't have any skin showing from head to toe. And they wear two pairs of rubber gloves. But unlike a hazmat situation, the goal here isn't to protect the workers from the vaccine, it's to protect the vaccine from the workers. We were not allowed in those rooms.

A lot of people are worried the H1N1 vaccine isn't safe. I'm not vouching for its safety - but  the companies and government health authorities say it is. But anecdotally, for what it's worth, I can vouch for a strict dress code and sanitizing procedures that, as best as I can tell, weren't just for show.

Under the Flu Vaccine Veil

P.S. Becky Quick threw me a bit of a curveball at the end of my live report on "Squawk Box" this morning.

She asked about the hole in the eggs.

I have since learned that the hole is so microscopically small that the thin slimy membrane on the inside of the eggshell reseals the egg, so the virus can't easily leak out.

See? Learn something new every day.

Questions?  Comments? and follow me on Twitter at mhuckman

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