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Protect yourself from swine flu – also known as H1N1 flu – by getting vaccinated.
Step 1: Know the risk groups
Know the at-risk groups encouraged to get the vaccine: Pregnant women; anyone in close contact with children younger than six months; health care and emergency medical personnel; all people six months through 24 years of age; and people age 25 to 65 who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza.
So far, the Centers for Disease Control’s data indicate the risk of infection among people age 65 or older is less than the risk for younger age groups.
Step 2: Be aware of prioritizing
Be aware that if you are not in one of the at-risk groups, it is possible you will have to wait. If supplies are limited, at-risk groups will be vaccinated first.
Step 3: Don’t assume prior protection
Don’t assume that you’re immune to the 2009 H1N1 virus if you were vaccinated against the 1976 swine flu. They are different viruses, and you still need to be immunized against the 2009 strain.
Step 4: Know where to get the vaccine
Know where to get the vaccine. Each state has its own plan. Locations include vaccination clinics organized by local health departments, health care provider offices, schools, pharmacies, and even some workplaces.
For state-by-state information, go to the Center of Disease Control’s web site.
Step 5: Get both flu shots
Get your regular seasonal flu shot. The flu vaccine that’s been developed specifically to prevent the H1N1 flu is not meant to replace your annual flu shot. You may get both on the same day, but the seasonal shot will likely be available before the H1N1 shot.
Step 6: Take the usual precautions
Take the usual precautions against catching any kind of cold or flu virus: Wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. If you come down with flu symptoms, ask your doctor if antiviral drugs may be right for you – and stay away from others until you’re well!
Did You Know?
The H1N1 virus is made up of genes not only from pigs, but also from birds and humans.