It is not too late for those who have not been immunized against the novel H1N1 influenza A virus or seasonal influenza to protect themselves from a potentially serious and possibly fatal illness.
“Flu is very unpredictable,” said Dr. Peter Wenger, an associate professor in the departments of Preventive Medicine & Community Health and Pediatrics at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School.
“Though H1N1 activity appears to be waning nationwide and is no longer widespread in New Jersey, we could see another wave as the winter progresses, possibly even into March or April,” he said. “The prudent course is to protect yourself and those around you, and the best way to do that is through vaccination.”
As of mid-November, an estimated 47 million persons in the United States had been infected with the H1N1 virus, resulting in an estimated 213,000 hospitalizations and 9,820 deaths, according to figures just released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In contrast with previous influenza seasons, approximately 87% of influenza-related deaths from the H1N1 virus had occurred among persons younger than 65 years of age.
“People might say ?Oh, the flu season is almost over. Why should I get vaccinated?’ You really should because the flu season, as last year showed, can extend into spring,” Wenger noted.
“Influenza is not a disease to fool around with,” he warned. “Why wouldn’t you want to protect yourself against something like that? Even if you get what’s called ?mild disease,’ you’d be sick for about a week and be pretty miserable. Why go through it?”
Those still on the fence about getting immunized should not worry about the H1N1 or seasonal flu vaccines’ safety, Wenger said. “We’ve been giving the seasonal flu shot for decades now, and it’s proven to be a very safe and effective vaccine in most who have received it,” Wenger noted. “The H1N1 flu vaccine is processed and produced exactly the same way as the seasonal flu vaccine, and studies have shown that the new vaccine is as safe as the seasonal flu vaccine.”
Wenger encourages everyone, especially younger people – those under the age of 50 – and anyone with underlying conditions such as asthma, to get vaccinated now.
Source: University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, USA