H1N1 influenza could still pose major health risk

Wednesday , July 21, 2010 - 3:20 PM comment

Capt. Antonio Leonardi - 75th Medical Group

The average American believes the H1N1 influenza is now of little concern. Statistically speaking, to date, that sentiment is not unfounded. The number of people infected by H1N1 has been no more severe than a typical seasonal flu and the number of hospitalizations and deaths has not been high enough to be considered "newsworthy."

However, the historical pattern of this disease reminds us to remain vigilant. Most of the influenza pandemics we've faced came in multiple waves occurring over a two- to three-year period and death tolls were in the millions. The current pandemic with which we are dealing only began nine months ago and the estimated number of deaths is in thousands

While I'm not attempting to suggest this influenza strain will eventually mimic the devastation of its predecessors, it is still possible. What makes this situation even more worrisome is an estimate that only 20 percent of the eligible population in the United States has been immunized. In other words, 240 million p Antonio Leonardi eople in this country are unvaccinated. This means 240 million people are still susceptible to the virus. And while this number may seem startling, it pales in comparison to the billions of people on this planet who do not have access to the vaccine.

So while it may seem inconvenient to take a few minutes out of your day to get the flu shot, you should consider the potential ramifications should you decide not to get vaccinated. While most people only experience respiratory type symptoms, other complications include inflammation of the heart, inflammation of the brain and kidney failure (just to name a few).

In addition you can spread the disease to family and friends, lose time at work and experience permanent impairment. So consider getting vaccinated much like an insurance policy -- you grow tired of paying on it for years, but you're thankful it's there when needed.

For additional information, please contact the 75th Medical Group Public Health Office at (801) 586-9665.

More information can always be found through the CDC link at http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/.

H1N1 and seasonal influenza vaccinations are mandatory for all active duty and available for Tri-Care beneficiaries. Come to the 75th Medical Group Immunization Clinic. Call (801) 777-5209 for specific hours of operation.

'No Wait' H1N1 immunizations

The 75th MDG will be putting on a "no wait" novel H1N1 immunization shot clinic for active duty military and TriCare beneficiaries in its Ambulance Bay on the following dates:

Feb. 2: 1 p.m.-5 p.m.

Feb. 4: 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

Novel H1N1 vaccine is now available to all Department of Defense civilians at the OMS clinic, Building 249. For more details please call (801) 777-1163.

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