The number of regular flu cases spike during the months of January and February. Health officials say this year, the swine flu virus could make that spike much worse.
Officials say now is a very good time to get vaccinated against the H1N1 virus or the regular flu. It’s also a convenient time for children to receive a vaccination before they return to school.
Dr. Robert Ball is an infectious disease epidemiologist with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. “The H1N1 is more transmissible than the regular flu strains,” he says, “but not more severe.”
Check with your physician or local health center for current vaccine availability at specific locations. You can check on line at www.scdhec.gov.
Ball says the infection should be taken very seriously as well as the need for a vaccination. “This is to be taken very seriously,” he said. “There have been hundreds of deaths in the U.S. alone from H1N1 and many more hospitalizations.”
Ball says overall H1N1 is no worse than the regular flu, but he says some people are affected more severely than others. “Medical providers have no test to determine who is going to do OK by simply staying home and taking chicken soup and who is going to need hospitalization and a ventilator in two days,” he says. “So have a high degree of caution for the worsening of symptoms.”
Ball recommends that those who believe they may have gotten the flu get a prescription for Tamiflu or a similar drug as soon as possible.
Remember that the 2009 H1N1 vaccine will not protect you against seasonal flu. You will need to get a separate seasonal flu vaccine which may be available at the same location.