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What To Do About the Flu: The Lowdown on the Seasonal and H1N1 Flu Viruses

Epidemic

With all the news coverage about the 2009 H1N1 flu (formerly known as swine flu), it can be hard to separate the truth from the hype. Here are some straight facts about the differences between the seasonal flu and the 2009 H1N1 virus, as well as the most recent recommendations regarding vaccinations.

Know the Symptoms
Both seasonal and 2009 H1N1 flus can cause mild or severe illness, in some cases leading to hospitalization or even death. Complications can include pneumonia, infections and dehydration. Flus can also worsen existing medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and congestive heart failure.

Symptoms of both flus include:
Fever
Headache
Extreme tiredness
Cough
Sore throat
Runny or stuffy nose
Muscle aches
Vomiting and diarrhea

Who needs a vaccination?
Certain people are more vulnerable to both viruses, such as pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions, and children 4 years old and younger. However, people 65 and older, who are typically more at risk of seasonal flu complications, do not seem to be at increased risk for 2009 H1N1 virus complications. The best way to protect yourself from seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year.

Seasonal Vaccine

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s especially important that people in the following groups get the seasonal flu vaccine (the seasonal flu vaccine does not protect against the 2009 H1N1 flu, which has its own vaccine as detailed below).
 

  • People between 6 months through 18 years of age
  • Pregnant women
  • People age 50 years and older
  • People with certain chronic health conditions
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • Health care personnel
  • Caregivers of young children, older adults or people with certain medical conditions

H1N1 Vaccine
When the 2009 H1N1 vaccine is released, it may not be immediately available to people at low risk of complications from the illness. It’s important, however, for people in high-risk groups to be vaccinated.

High-risk groups for 2009 H1N1 flu:
  • Pregnant women
  • People who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age
  • Health care and emergency medical services personnel
  • People between 6 months through 24 years of age
  • People from 25 through 64 years old who have chronic medical conditions or compromised immune systems

San Joaquin Community Hospital and CDC recommends that you get vaccines for both flus—seasonal and 2009 H1N1—as soon as you can. If you do contract the flu, stay home from work/school and get plenty of rest. If symptoms worsen or persist, contact your family physician immediately. For more information about San Joaquin Community Hospital, call (661) 395-3000.