Give H1N1 vaccine a shot

Staff Writer
Washington Times-Reporter

There is some apprehension about getting the H1N1 flu vaccination; however, this shot is a must for those in certain age categories.

The Center for Disease Control recommends that certain groups receive the vaccination. They are pregnant women; children and young adults 6 months to 24 years old; adults ages 25 to 64 years old with health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma or anyone with lowered immunity; household members and caregivers of children younger than 6 months old; and health care workers and emergency medical service providers with direct patient contact.

The Tazewell County Health Department is offering the vaccination free. (See story on Page 1).

The obvious reason to get the vaccination is to stop the spread of sickness. When someone with the H1N1 flu, or any other flu, goes to work or school, germs are spread. More people get sick, which leads to loss of productivity and wages in the workplace, or loss of education among schoolchildren.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there have been 476 confirmed cases of hospitalized people with H1N1 and 20 confirmed deaths in Illinois due to H1N1.

The highest number of confirmed cases, 131, is among people 5 to 18 years old. The second highest age group is 25 through 49, with 107 cases.

In a University of Michigan national poll last month, only 40 percent of parents said they planned to have their children get the H1N1 vaccine this fall. Among parents who are not planning to have their children vaccinated, about half cited concerns about a reaction to the H1N1 vaccine, and the same proportion said they were not worried about their children getting sick.

In an online poll on the Washington Times-Reporter Web site, 59 percent of people said they do not plan on getting the vaccine.

Sara Sparkman, community relations manager at the Tazewell County Health Department, said people should not be apprehensive about getting the H1N1 vaccination.

“The same manufacturers who make the seasonal flu vaccine are making the H1N1 vaccine. They are not using a new process,” Sparkman said.

According to Sparkman, the regular seasonal flu vaccine protects the body against what the CDC believes will be the three most common strains of influenza that year.

“With the H1N1 vaccine, they know exactly what strain of the influenza it is,” Sparkman said. 

She said the most common side effects of the H1N1 vaccine are similar to those of the seasonal flu vaccine: soreness at the injection site and a low-grade fever.

These side effects are better than the alternative of days in bed with a high fever, the possibility of passing the virus to others or even death.

The safest and smartest thing to do is take advantage of the county’s free H1N1 flu clinics beginning Thursday.