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Health officials urge H1N1 vaccination

October 13, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Despite all the education efforts, many Americans are still expressing concern over getting the H1N1 vaccine. Although the swine flu is no more dangerous than the seasonal flu, doctors say young children are proving to catch this virus more easily.The H1N1 virus is now found nearly everywhere in the U.S., and proving fatal to those most at risk.

"H1N1 influenza is pretty much throughout the country with unusual levels of illness for this time of year," said Dr. Anne Schuchat from the CDC. "We had five more deaths reported to us. So, again there are many tragic consequences for a lot of children."

A new Centers for Disease Control study shows half of adults hospitalized were healthy before being infected with H1N1, the rest had underlying health conditions.

"In adults the most common underlining conditions were asthma and chronic lung disease and immune suppression," said Dr. Schuchat.

Nearly ten million doses of the swine flu vaccine have been produced so far. ABC News reached out to health centers around the country and they report a limited supply for patients because health care workers are getting the vaccine first.

"As of yesterday, 5.8 million doses have been ordered by the states to be shipped out," said Dr. Schuchat. "And we are getting new orders every day."

The first shots will likely be given on Wednesday. But even with health officials encouraging people to get vaccinated, some Americans still say they just won't do it.

"I actually I don't like flu shots because they scare me," said parent Trisha Collins.

Health experts say that even if you haven't had swine flu in your area you still need to be cautious.

"If you're in a part of the country that hasn't had flu yet, that's good news," said Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News' senior health and medical editor. "You have time to get the vaccine and prevent it."

Health officials say you can get regular and H1N1 flu shot at the same time.

Priority groups for the vaccine include:

  • pregnant women
  • young people 6 months to 24 years old
  • caregivers for children under 6 months of age
  • health care workers and emergency service personnel
  • individuals 25-64 with health conditions that put them at higher risk for flu-related complications.
In addition to being immunized, the risk of flu can be minimized by:
  • washing hands, with soap or an alcohol-based hand wash for at least 20 seconds, throughout the day
  • covering a cough or sneezes with a tissue or, if need be, the inside of your elbow
  • not touching your hands to your face, nose or mouth
  • staying home if you're sick, until at least 24 hours after the fever comes down below 100 degrees without medication.

City News Service contributed to this report.


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