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What You Need to Know About H1N1 (Swine Flu)

Swine Flu- What you need to know.

In the Spring of 2009 the swine flu, also known as H1N1, was reported in the United States, including in New Jersey. The symptoms are similar to the seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuff nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some who were affected were seriously ill and just as with the seasonal flu. Swine Flu is different from the seasonal flu. It has been reported that people over age 65 are least likely to get sick with H1N1 (Swine flu). However, seniors are encouraged to get their annual Seasonal flu vaccine.

What can you do to protect yourself and others?

  • Stay informed- check the internet for up to date information on the swine flu:

New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services at http://www.state.nj.us/health/flu/h1n1.shtml

Or the CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination/ or call (800)-CDC-INFO (232-4636)

  • Take actions to stay healthy: Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and cough, wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizers, stay home if you are sick
  • Follow public health advice regarding school closures and avoiding crowds

The US Department of Health and Human Services reports that a vaccine for H1N1 will be available by October 2009. Any vaccines ordered on by September 30, 2009, should be delivered by Tuesday, October 06, 2009. The vaccine will continue to be produced and available to order on a regular basis. Please visit http://www.flu.gov/ for more information.

There is a concern that when the vaccine becomes available, there will be a limited supply available, therefore 5 categories of “high- risk” individuals have been targeted, they include: pregnant women, persons who live with or care for infants < 6 months, healthcare and emergencies services workers, children and young adults aged 6 months to 24 years and persons aged 25 to 64 who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk. People age 65 and older are not included in the groups recommended to get the initial doses of 2009 H1N1 vaccine because they are least likely to get sick with this virus, and, there will be limited amounts of vaccine available at first, so the first doses are recommended to go to those who are most likely to get infected and become very ill.

The CDC states that most people how become ill with H1N1 will recover without medical care, however, if you are severely ill or you are at high-risk for complications due to another condition, contact your doctor or seek medical care. Anti-viral drugs are available through your doctor if you become seriously ill from the swine flu.

 Warning signs that you may need to seek medical attention:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

 It is still important to get vaccinated for the seasonal flu as well, contact your doctor for information about the seasonal flu vaccine.