H1N1 vaccine in King County

h1n1You’ve noticed by now that this H1N1 virus is a big deal since it gets covered so often in the news you’d think it was Paris Hilton’s new purse dog or something.

H1N1, or the “Swine Flu”, as some people call it, is getting so much attention for a number of reasons and they’re not all about inciting unnecessary panic. One of them is this: when the regular seasonal flu causes fatalities, it’s mostly among the very old, the very young and the already very ill, people who automatically carry a higher rate of mortality. Of course these people are also at elevated risk from H1N1, too, (although it may be worth noting that people 65 and older have the least risk of dying from H1N1) but H1N1 seems to have a thing for young people. The CDC has concluded that at the present H1N1 has caused a greater disease burden in people younger than 25. This is pretty unusual.

There’s really no reason yet to panic over H1N1; while it really sucks to get it, the majority of people will suffer for a while and then get better. Mind you, it’s always better to avoid getting it in the first place. The best way to do that is to follow all the usual illness prevention tips: wash your hands frequently with soap and water and if you don’t have soap and water available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. This is really hard to do, but totally worth it as keeping your hands away from your face makes a huge difference in cutting down on the spread of germs. Don’t treat them like pariahs, for goodness sake, but try to avoid being too close to people who are already sick. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash, not your pocket, when you’re done. If you don’t have a tissue on hand when you cough or sneeze, cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve unless you can somehow manage to get right to a sink immediately afterwards without touching anything.

A vaccine exists for H1N1. In King County, over 400 health care providers have requested the vaccine, almost all of whom got a supply in before October 30. Another 67, 000 doses are on their way, expected to be here by November 6. The county will distribute these vaccines to health care providers and also to pharmacies for the sake of people who don’t have a medical home or who have a provider who isn’t signed up for the H1N1 vaccine.

A vaccine also exists for the regular old-fashioned seasonal flu, too, which is no less of a potential killer (although, again, most people who get it will only be miserable for a while and then get better. It’s still not worth taking a chance on.) so be sure to talk to your health care provider about that. A bunch of local businesses also offer seasonal flu shots–signs are up at Bartell’s and other drug stores and pharmacies–as well.

For more information on either H1N1 or the seasonal flu, you can visit the Seattle and King County Public Health webpage or call the King County Flu Hotline at 877-903-KING (5464) Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.

1 Comment so far

  1. Mary (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2009 @ 8:39 pm

    My child came home from school saying they learned to cough and sneeze into their elbows with Germie Wormie, and I was totally taken aback. I always used my hands. But I went to the website, and now I get it, hands touch, elbows don’t!! Kids can touch up to 300 surfaces in 1/2 an hour, and they hate to wash their hands. This is a simple thing that can make a huge difference. There is also an entertaining DVD that teaches kids how to do this and reinforces other important preventative habits. Even if you get the vaccination, you can still be a carrier of H1N1, which is why ‘hands-on’ prevention is so important.



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