Tuesday, September 29, 2009

MAG Promoting Both Seasonal Flu and H1N1 Vaccinations

The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is reminding Georgians to get their annual flu vaccination, and the leading voice for physicians in the state also says that patients should get vaccinated for the H1N1 flu as soon as the vaccine is available.

“The seasonal flu vaccine is different from the H1N1 swine flu vaccine,” MAG president M. Todd Williamson, M.D., explains. “We’re talking about different viruses, so you need to get both vaccines to be fully protected this year.”

Dr. Williamson is encouraging patients to consult with their primary care physician to determine specifically when they should get vaccinated based on their age and health profile, as well as the availability of the vaccines. He says the seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccines can be administered on the same day, though he adds that it will still be several weeks before the H1N1 vaccine is available. He also points out that the H1N1 vaccination might require two injections for children nine and younger – pending the outcome of some clinical trials that are underway.

Dr. Williamson says the priority groups for the H1N1 vaccination include people six months to 24 years; people who live with or care for children younger than six months; pregnant women; health care and emergency medical services personnel; and people 25 to 64 who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza.

Dr. Williamson explains that influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that is caused by influenza viruses. Most people who get the flu will recover in a matter of days, but he stresses that more serious complications like pneumonia can occur. Dr. Williamson says that the flu can include a variety of symptoms, including a high fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, muscle aches, and stomach symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Dr. Williamson says the flu shot and the nasal-spray vaccine are effective preventative measures when it comes to the seasonal flu.

In terms of advice, Dr. Williamson says, “The best ways to protect yourself from the flu are to wash your hands on a regular basis and to get your flu vaccinations from your primary care physician as part of your overall health maintenance program.”

Go to www.flu.gov for additional information on the flu and flu vaccines. Go to www.mag.org for additional information on MAG.
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