(BlackDoctor.org) — As a baby boomer, while you may remember the flu pandemics of 1957 or 1968, you probably have never seen a flu season quite like the one we’re having this year. This year, it’s all about the 2009 H1N1 flu, and it’s a very new and very different flu virus. Many people will not have immunity to it, and there will be more people sick, hospitalized and dying from the illness this season than during a regular flu season (in addition to the anticipated complications from the regular flu as well). If you’re older, it’s particularly dangerous because the viral infection can exhaust your body, making it easy for life-threatening complications such as bacterial pneumonia to take hold.
To help stay healthy this flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly seasonal flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against seasonal influenza. A separate vaccine has been made to protect against 2009 H1N1 flu. CDC has recommendations on who should get vaccinated with each vaccine this season, so ask your doctor about flu vaccination.
“Flu is not to be taken lightly. People who do not get the flu vaccine are taking two risks: first, they risk a potentially serious case of the flu. And second, if they get sick, they risk passing it to family, friends, and co-workers,” says Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “The latter can be especially dangerous for people at high risk of serious flu-related complications and death.”
The flu can be far worse than the common cold, with symptoms including fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu, including 2009 H1N1 flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever. Dangerous complications of flu can include pneumonia, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.
For more information about BDO’s partnership with the U.S. Government, visit: http://flu.gov/news/openletter.html. For more information about the flu, visit: www.flu.gov, www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu, or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636). Also, to find out where vaccinations are available near you, visit: http://www.flu.gov/news/socialmedia/index.html#flulocator.