What's the best way to protect against illness from influenza, whether it's the seasonal flu or the new H1N1 flu, sometimes called "swine flu"? The answer, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is a flu vaccine.
Who should be vaccinated?
Although H1N1 viruses of 2009 are likely to be the most common cause of influenza this season, the CDC expects that seasonal influenza viruses also will circulate, and hence recommends that people get a seasonal flu vaccine as well. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that children receive both a seasonal flu vaccine and a H1N1 flu vaccine.
Flu shot side effects
"It's important that everyone get their vaccines," emphasizes Henry Bernstein, MD, FAAP, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and its Committee on Infectious Diseases. He explains that although many parents fear that flu shots and other vaccines may cause autism, there is "no direct link to autism and the use of vaccines."
Should my child get the H1NI vaccine as a shot or a nasal spray?
When to get vaccinated
About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against the H1N1 influenza virus infection will develop in the body. Vaccination against H1N1 should begin as soon as vaccine is available and continue throughout the influenza season into December, January and beyond, advises the CDC. The timing and duration of flu activity can vary, with flu seasons lasting as late as April or May, the CDC notes.
The symptoms of H1N1 flu virus are similar to those of the regular flu: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may experience vomiting and diarrhea, and some may be infected with the H1N1 virus and have respiratory symptoms but not have a fever.
Although severe illnesses and deaths have occurred as a result of illness associated with the H1N1 virus, most people who contract the virus will have mild symptoms.
Warning signs in children
If children exhibit any of the following symptoms, get them medical care immediately:
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