Swine flu vaccine offers peace of mind

By Alex Pittinsky
November 5, 2009

Shannon Keough

Since this summer, H1N1 influenza mania, better known as “swine flu,” has taken over the United States. Now there is a vaccine for the swine flu virus. The swine flu is different from the common flu because it is a different strain of the virus. However, the symptoms for the swine flu are quite similar to the symptoms of the common flu.

The symptoms are cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, runny nose, fatigue, a fever over 100 degrees and in some cases nausea or vomiting. Typically, people over the age of 60 are at an extremely low risk of getting the virus whereas pregnant women are at a much higher risk rate of getting the virus.

Young adults, who are not usually largely affected by the seasonal flu, are at a higher risk of getting the swine flu.

People infected with the virus are contagious one day before getting sick, and up to seven days after that.

All across the United States, elementary schools, high schools and college campuses have been forced to shut their doors for one week, due to the rise of swine flu cases.

Now, there is something we can do to protect ourselves from the swine flu. There is now a vaccine that is in its first year trial to fight against the virus.

The purpose of a vaccine is to give a weakened form of the virus so that the body can have a chance to attack it and then in turn, make your body immune to it.

Because this is the first year for the swine flu virus I do not know if I trust it. I am skeptical because I do not know anyone personally who has gotten the vaccine. However, I do believe that the vaccine is necessary.

So far 1,000 people have died in the United States and 20,000 more have been hospitalized. President Barack Obama has declared the H1N1 virus a national emergency.

The CDC recommends that people get the seasonal influenza vaccination first and then the H1N1 vaccination when it becomes available at their doctor or a local registered site.

I discussed the topic with my parents and they strongly suggest that it would be a good investment for me to get the H1N1 influenza vaccine and they said that if the virus affected people their age they would get it as well. In general, we can protect ourselves with hand sanitizers and simply by being cautious of germs and people who might have a cold or cough.

If you are interested in the vaccine, the CDC has identified five groups of people who are most vulnerable to complications from the H1N1 virus.

Those five groups include pregnant women, health care providers and EMS personnel, parents or caregivers of children younger than six months of age, persons six months to 24 years of age and those younger than 60 years of age with certain underlying medical conditions.

Currently, the initial shipments of the vaccine have been placed for Pennsylvania providers, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health is working with these private
providers to reach certain populations most in need.

In the meantime, contact your health care provider or school district to see if the vaccine has arrived. As larger quantities of the vaccine arrive in the commonwealth, the Department of Health has said it will have public vaccination sites as an additional means to receive the vaccination.

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Alex Pittinsky

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