Confusion reigns over seasonal flu, H1N1

There is a lot of talk about the flu this season and most of it is confusing to patients who want their seasonal flu shot.

Vicky Moore, RN, said Little River Medical Center will begin annual flu clinics on Sept. 21 this year to administer the seasonal flu shots.

"This is the regular flu shot that we give each year," Moore said. "It's important to know that these shots will not protect against the H1N1 virus. Those vaccines should be available in mid-October or early November."

Moore, nursing manager at Little River Clinic, said the seasonal flu shots will begin about two weeks earlier than normal.

H1N1 flu virus

Health care workers have been filling out surveys in advance of receiving vaccines for the H1N1 virus, also called the "sw ine flu."

"The government has purchased the H1N1 vaccine and they will decide how many we get, based on the surveys," Moore said. "The H1N1 vaccine will be free, but there will be a charge to administer it."

Moore said high-risk groups for the H1N1 are different than the seasonal flu.

"Normally, they consider the elderly high risk for seasonal flu," Moore said. "But for the H1N1 virus, it's pregnant women, young people up to age 24, health care workers and those with chronic conditions."

H1N1 vaccines may be administered in two doses—the second 28 days after the first.

"It's a new strain that we've never seen before," Moore said. "They're saying that the younger population is getting it six to eight times more than the elderly."

Precautions, risk Eric Weinrich, Little River's infectious disease specialist, said to use common sense when dealing with prevention methods for either type of flu.

"They're things everyone knows, wash your hands, cough or sneeze into your elbow, try to avoid large groups, stay home if you are sick," Weinrich said.

Weinrich stays in daily contact with officials who continue to study the H1N1 virus.

Moore said to take the seasonal f lu threat seriously, especially those in high-risk groups, including the elderly, pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions.

"The seasonal flu kills about 40,000 people in the U.S. each year," she said.

"It takes a body several weeks to build up immunity and the vaccine does wane over time, especially among the elderly," she said. "The risk factor can also depend on when the flu strain arrives in our area. Some years it is later than others."

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2009-09-10 digital edition

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