12/21/2009-H1N1 Vaccine Now Open to Everyone at Contra Costa Public Health Flu Clinics
Swine flu is assumed to be present throughout Contra Costa County and Health Officials continue to monitor the situation. There is continued concern that the fall season will be the worst yet for the H1N1 virus. While all flu viruses can be deadly, everyone must remain vigilant in helping to prevent the spread of H1N1 and seasonal flu. The City of Hercules has added information about the Swine Flu to address the growning concerns about the spead of swine flu as we approach the regular flu season. For more information about the H1N1 virus, visit the Contra Costa Health Department's H1N1 page.
In Contra Costa, health officials are advising the public to:
*Protect yourself and your family by using the same simple steps used to prevent regular seasonal flu: Cough or sneeze into your sleeve, wash your hands frequently or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
*Try to avoid contact with sick people.
*Stay home from work or school if you are sick.
*Stay home if someone you live with is sick with flu-like symptoms.
*Do not attend large public events, if you are sick or anyone in your family is sick with flu-like symptoms.
Attending a public event may increase your chance of being exposed to an illness.
*Use good hand and respiratory hygiene.
*Contact your health care provider if you have flu like symptoms. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed. Flu symptoms include fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea.
*Only go to the emergency room if you have a medical emergency.
Health officials are recommending that only people ill with severe flu-like symptoms be tested for swine flu. A vaccine is now available, but not all individuals are eligible at this time. Please read the news update "H1N1 vaccine comes to Contra Costa County" for more information.
What are the symptoms of swine flu?
The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include:
• Sore throat
In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may make underlying chronic medical conditions worse.
What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
There is no vaccine available right now to protect against swine flu. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
• Cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
• 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 hand cleaners are also effective. Like regular flu, the swine flu virus can live for several days on surfaces such as doorknobs.
• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit
contact with others to keep from infecting them. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs
spread this way. Contact your health care provider.
When will the H1N1 flu vaccine become available?
As of December 21, 2009, H1N1 (swine) flu vaccine is available to anyone ages 6 months and older in Contra Costa County.
Where can I get vaccine?
The best place to get H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccine is from your health care provider. Call ahead of time to see if they are offering either vaccine. Depending on vaccine supplies, H1N1 vaccine may be offered at the Contra Costa Public Health drive-through clinics.
Will the seasonal flu vaccine protect me from H1N1 flu?
No. You will need two different vaccines to protect yourself from the seasonal flu and the H1N1 flu. Neither vaccine is a substitute for the other.
Can I receive the H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines on the same day?
Yes, as long as one of the vaccines is a shot. You cannot receive two nasal mist vaccines on the same day.
Who should get the H1N1 flu vaccine?
Everyone is recommended to get the H1N1 flu vaccine, to protect themselves and the community by stopping the spread of the H1N1 flu. There are certain groups of people who are more vulnerable to severe disease and should be sure to get the vaccine as soon as possible:
- pregnant women
- children and young adults ages 6 months to 24 years old
- adults ages 25-64 who have chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems
There are also certain groups who should get vaccinated to help prevent passing the flu to others including health care workers, emergency medical services personnel and those who care for young children under 6 months of age.
How many doses of H1N1 flu vaccine do I need?
Children six months through nine years of age will need two doses at least one month apart. People ten years of age and older need one dose.
If I was vaccinated against swine flu in 1976, do I need the H1N1 vaccine?
Yes. This H1N1 flu virus is different from the virus that was circulating in 1976, so that vaccine will not protect you from this new H1N1 flu.
Will it be safe to get the H1N1 flu vaccine?
Yes. Prior to release, vaccines are tested for safety and effectiveness in clinical trials. All licensed vaccines are held to very high standards of quality and safety. So far there have been no reports of severe reactions to the H1N1 flu vaccine.
What should I do if I get sick with H1N1 flu before I get the vaccine?
If you get sick with H1N1 flu, contact your health care provider. Your health care provider will determine whether you should be treated with an antiviral medication, such as Tamiflu. Do not go to the emergency room unless you have a medical emergency. Do not return to work or school until you have had no fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
If I already had H1N1 flu, do I still need the vaccine?
Yes. There is not enough evidence that your body will build up enough immunity to protect you from getting sick a second time.
What else can I do to prevent the spread of H1N1 flu?
Continue to practice good hygiene. This means washing your hands often, covering your coughs
and sneezes, and staying home from school or work if you are sick.
Should I keep my children home from school or daycare?
If your child is ill, please keep your child home. Symptoms to look for include a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or greater, and a cough or sore throat. If your child has these symptoms, keep the child home.
What should I do if I get sick?
At this time, it is recommended that most people who have flu-like symptoms care for themselves at home, and to treat this virus as they would a regular flu. Rest, drink plenty of fluids and take over the counter flu medicines to relieve symptoms. You should see your health care provider if you have severe symptoms such as trouble breathing. If you do not have a health care provider, you can call the Contra Costa Health Services Advice Nurse Line at 1-877-661-6230. Please do not go to the Emergency Room unless you have a medical emergency.
Is there a website with more information about Swine flu?
Yes, you can find more information at the Contra Costa Health Department, Center for Disease Control and the California Department of Public Health websites.