By Ken Pearce
Lorain County General Health District
Fall is the time of year when many people decide whether or not to get their seasonal flu shots. This year is a little different because people are faced with an additional decision about the H1N1 vaccine. Decisions regarding seasonal flu are usually made by those over the age of 50, as well as those who have chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, lung, kidney and other disorders. However, the 2009 H1N1 flu has caused more illness in people younger than 25 years of age than older people.
Earlier this year the H1N1 influenza virus, previously called the swine flu, was designated as a worldwide epidemic. The 2009 H1N1 influenza virus is a new and very different flu virus. Fortunately, a vaccine has been developed for this virus and will soon be available to us in Lorain County and throughout Ohio.
The H1N1 flu vaccines are produced similarly to seasonal flu vaccines that are made every year. The safety of influenza vaccines is closely monitored and held to the highest standards. The most common side effects are mild, such as soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling where the shot is given.
Medical care providers, health districts and others have prepared to provide flu shots to prevent the over 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths related to influenza flu that occur each year. This year it is even more important that we get our flu shot because of the new virus, H1N1.
Medical Providers and health districts are preparing for providing the vaccine over the next months. Currently, the Elyria and the Lorain County General Health Districts have been conducting vaccination clinics for seasonal flu and all health districts in Lorain County and Ohio will be working with medical providers to start H1N1 clinics as soon as the vaccine is available.
In the mean time, interested individuals can become informed about H1H1 and preregister for the H1N1 vaccine by going on-line to the Lorain County General Health District website, www.loraincountyhealth.com or get the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website www.flu.gov.
What You Can Do to Stay Healthy
Stay informed. Our website will be updated regularly as information becomes available.
Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
Take everyday actions to stay healthy.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
Stay home if you get sick. CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
Find healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety.
Call 1-800-CDC-INFO for more information.
Ken Pearce is the Lorain County Health Commissioner. The Lorain County General Health District is located at 9880 South Murray Ridge Rd in Elyria. Phone: (440)322-6367. Online: www.loraincountyhealth.com.