Since 2009, the world has had to worry not only about seasonal influenza, but also the new H1N1 swine flu. These are different infections, caused by distinct viruses and require separate vaccinations. The following are the CDC’s vaccination recommendations for H1N1 swine and seasonal flu.
* Who Should Get the Swine Flu Vaccine? *
A vaccine for the new H1N1 swine flu virus was ready for public use in October 2009. Prior to its release, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met to determine who should receive this new H1N1 vaccine. Unlike the recommendations for the seasonal flu vaccine, which focus mainly on the very young and very old, the new H1N1 vaccine is primarily suggested for use in children, and young adults. The specific populations that are being urged to get the H1N1 swine flu vaccine include:
* Pregnant women.
* Household contacts and caregivers of infants less than 6 months of age.
* Healthcare and emergency medical services personnel.
* Everyone from 6 months through 24 years of age.
* Persons aged 25 through 64 years who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza.
* Who Should Get a Seasonal Flu Vaccine? *
The seasonal flu vaccine and the H1V1 are formulated from different viruses. So getting vaccinated against the new swine flu will not protect a person from catching seasonal flu. Some people will need to get both vaccines, others will be getting only the swine flu or seasonal flu vaccine, depending on their level of risk. The CDC recommends that the following populations get the seasonal flu vaccine:
* Children aged 6 months through 19.
* Pregnant women.
* People 50 years of age and older.
* People with certain chronic medical conditions.
* People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
* People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu.
* Preparing for the Fall Flu Season *
Vaccines can only be used to prevent, not treat, infectious disease. There are antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu, currently being stockpiled so that they’ll be ready to be used for the treatment of influenza, should they be needed.
Stay healthy this flu season by:
* Washing hands at regular intervals to reduce the chance of infection.
* Use the CDC recommended method of coughing and sneezing, into fabric, such as a sleeve, rather than into the hands that can leave viral particles on items touched.
* Understand the difference between novel H1N1 swine flu and seasonal influenza
* Speak with the family physician about which family members will need each type of flu shot.
* Find out when the vaccines will be available in your area, and get them as scheduled.
* Watch the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) or the World Health Organization’s (WHO) websites for updates to their influenza recommendations.
* Learn what the WHO Pandemic Alert Phases mean.