From the Harford County Health Department:
Bel Air, MD – January 6, 2010 – National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) is a national observance taking place January 10 – 16, 2010 that was established to highlight the importance of influenza vaccination. It also serves to promote greater use of flu vaccine after the holiday season into January and beyond, at a time when demand for vaccine usually drops significantly.
Although the novel H1N1 influenza has been the most common flu virus over the past six months, the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expects that circulation of regular seasonal flu viruses also will cause illness. Because both influenzas are expected to remain prevalent in the months ahead, both vaccinations are recommended as the most important step in protecting against serious illness.
Harford County Health Officer, Ms. Susan Kelly, states, “It’s critical to our community’s best public health interests that everyone understand the unpredictable nature of influenza. There’s no way of anticipating with any certainty how serious an impact either the seasonal or H1N1 flu will have in the coming months. Neither do we know what the the likelihood is of a future wave of H1N1 influenza, nor what possible combined consequences the two might create. However, what we do know is that the more people who receive the vaccine, the less likely it is that influenza disease will spread in the coming months.”
For people who do not get vaccinated, the risks are twofold. First, they put themselves at risk for the flu, including a potentially long and serious illness. Second, if they do get sick, they also put their close contacts at immediate risk for influenza. Flu can be especially serious for babies, young children, pregnant women, persons with certain chronic medical conditions, and seniors, who are at high risk of flu-related complications or death. Ms Kelly reminds the public that, “The flu, whether seasonal or novel H1N1 influenza, is not a disease to be taken lightly. Although, to date, the effects of the H1N1 influenza strain have been mild to moderate in most cases, its disproportionate effects on youth and its potential severity are sufficient cause for people to get vaccinated.”
Persons ever having experienced the flu know it can have serious effects. This season, flu may pack more of a punch than usual because there are two influenzas in circulation. For this reason, the Harford County Health feels it is more important than ever for the public to get all the facts about flu as well as the vaccines available to prevent flu.
One of the many goals for NIVW is to engage at-risk audiences who are not yet vaccinated, hesitant about vaccination, or unsure about where to get vaccinated. For additional information, including a current listing of all planned Harford County Health Department vaccination clinics, visit the www.harfordcountyhealth.com website at or call 410-612-1779.