Vaccinations are your greatest protection against contracting the flu. I encourage everyone in our community to receive his flu shots this year, one for the seasonal flu, and one for H1N1, or swine flu. Those at highest risk for contracting swine flu are those under 25 years of age, pregnant women, caregivers of babies and those with health problems that put them at risk.
There has been some concern about the safety of the new H1N1 vaccine, but clinical trials conducted by the National Institutes of Health and the vaccine manufacturers have shown the vaccine is both safe and effective, and the Food and Drug Administration has licensed it. There have been no safety shortcuts. The H1N1 vaccine is produced exactly the same way the seasonal flu vaccine is produced every year. It is simply targeting a new virus strain.
Most people who contract swine flu will have only mild illnesses and will not need medical treatment. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms — difficulty breathing, bluish skin color, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, and severe or persistent vomiting — call your doctor right away. And stay home until you’re feeling better so you don’t spread your germs.
In addition to getting your vaccines, you can also help avoid the flu by washing your hands regularly with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds, and coughing or sneezing into your sleeve instead of your hands. If we all take these simple precautions, we will go a long way toward keeping ourselves and our families healthy. For additional information, log on to www.allencounty
healthdepartment.org or call 419-228-INFO.
David L. Rosebrock is Allen County’s health commissioner.