Flu season is here; vaccines coming

There are two types of flu this season, each coming at different times. This fall into early winter, H1N1 will be more common. Then, in early winter through spring, the seasonal flu will follow. Both the H1N1 and seasonal flu viruses spread from person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.


To prevent the spread of H1N1 and the seasonal flu, the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) are recommending the following guidelines, which include everyday actions to stay healthy:

•Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

•Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.

•Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.

•Stay home if you get sick. The CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. People may be contagious from one day before they develop symptoms to up to seven days after they get sick. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.


H1N1 has the same symptoms as the seasonal flu. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches and headache. Some people may have an upset stomach.

You should contact your provider if you have these symptoms and:

•You are pregnant

•You are an adult over 65 years old

•You have chronic lung, heart, kidney or liver disease, or diabetes

•You have a fever lasting more than three days

•If you have severe respiratory problems, such as shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

•If you are caring for a child under 2 years of age who has these symptoms

Seek immediate help if you have difficulty breathing or chest pain, are vomiting and are unable to keep liquids down, or experience seizures or dizziness when standing.


•Stay home as much as possible.

•Drink plenty of clear liquids, and rest as much as possible.

•Avoid unnecessary contact with others to prevent from spreading the flu virus.

•Use fever-reducing medications such as Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Ibuprofen (Advil) or Naproxen (Aleve). Do not give children or teenagers with the flu aspirin.


In most cases there is no need to go to the hospital emergency room. In fact, going there if you don't have the flu may increase your risk of getting it from others. If you go to the emergency room if you do have the flu may mean you are giving it to someone else.

If you do not have a health-care provider or if you are uninsured, the Public Health Department for Seattle & King County suggests calling the Community Health Access Program at (800) 756-5437 for assistance.


The larger shipments of vaccine slowly becoming available for people at higher risk of H1N1 influenza as recommended by the CDC:

•People between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old (560,000 people countywide)

•People age 25 through 64 years of age who are at higher risk for severe H1N1 because of chronic health conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes or brain/nervous system disorders) or weakened immune systems (264,000 people)

•Health-care and emergency medical services personnel (because they are at high risk for infection and to protect their patients from infection). (79,000 people)

•People who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age (20,000 people)

•Pregnant women (16,000 people)

Vaccine availability will be opened up to everyone who wants it as soon as supplies are sufficient to cover demand in risk groups.

The H1N1 vaccine will be available through health-care providers, pharmacies and other commercial vendors and community vaccination clinics.

For more information, visit the Public Health H1N1 Influenza website: www.kingcounty.gov/health/H1N1, or call the Flu Hotline, (877) 903-5464, 24 hours a day (English and Spanish).[[In-content Ad]]