Buckle up. This is getting to be a really bumpy ride.
As the H1N1 flu, also known as the swine flu, continues to spread through our schools and workplaces, conflicting information can almost paralyze us. We worry about the safety of the vaccine, especially for our children; but we worry more about the shortage of it. We listen to a sick child’s labored breathing, and wonder if she is better off at home or in the emergency room, surrounded by other sick people. The CDC announces a rise in H1N1 deaths, and all we can do is wash our hands some more.
Here’s a roundup of the situation as it exists today, Nov. 2. If you’ve got other questions that I don’t answer here, please add them in the Comments section below,
and we'll get those answered for you as well.
The CDC update on hospitalizations and deaths:
The Centers for Disease Control updates key flu indicators every week (see first web link, below). At the end of last week, the report noted that deaths associated with H1N1 and pneumonia has been higher than expected for four weeks now. Another 22 children died from the flu this past week, at least 19 of them confirmed to be H1N1. The total since April of pediatric flu deaths is now 126.
Hospitalizations are also higher than normal for this time of year, and the highest hospitalization rate is for children 0-4. And 48 states are reporting widespread flu activity right now – the only two that aren’t are Hawaii and South Carolina.
How do I know if I have H1N1?
There is a self-evaluation available at http://www.flu.gov/evaluation/ . It does not, of course, substitute for a doctor’s visit – what it does is give you an idea of the severity of your symptoms and whether you need to be seen by a doctor immediately. Questions are about fever, cough, chest pain, sore throat, etc. At the end the assessment gives you an idea of the immediacy with which you might need to seek a doctor’s opinion.
Where are the H1N1 flu shots?
If you click on the map at http://www.flu.gov/ you can get the latest information on when vaccines should be available in your area. You just click on your state, and can then click on your county.