Protect Yourself From H1N1 Flu; Get Vaccinated

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By NJ Health and Senior Services Deputy Commissioner Dr. Susan Walsh

Don’t take a chance with your health, get vaccinated.

Now that H1N1 vaccine is plentiful in New Jersey, everyone who can should protect themselves and their families by getting vaccinated. Vaccination is our safest and most effective tool to prevent influenza and stay healthy.

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Although flu activity is decreasing in our state, we must not become complacent.

Influenza virus is very unpredictable.   Unlike seasonal flu, which peaks in January and February, H1N1 influenza is a novel pandemic flu.  Novel pandemic influenza typically comes in waves.

Millions of Americans have already been safely vaccinated against H1N1, significantly decreasing their risk of becoming ill. H1N1 can cause serious illness and, like all flu viruses, can cause hospitalization and death. Although most cases of H1N1 flu have been relatively mild, there have been 42 laboratory confirmed H1N1-related deaths in New Jersey as of the end of January.

This year the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is urging residents to get vaccinated against both seasonal flu and H1N1 influenza.
There has been a significant increase in H1N1 vaccine availability in New Jersey. More than 2.6 million doses have been distributed to 1,450 county and local health departments, physicians, community health centers, hospitals, schools and colleges, businesses and pharmacies.

Although New Jersey is now offering H1N1 vaccine to the general public, the department continues to emphasize the importance of vaccination for those in target groups because they are at higher risk for complications of H1N1.

Young children, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions that compromise their immune systems—like cancer, AIDS, asthma and diabetes—are more susceptible to serious complications from influenza.

To find vaccine near you, residents can visit the DHSS website, nj.gov/health and use flu shot locators to find a health department that is offering no-cost vaccination.  Residents can also check with their doctors and local pharmacies to see if they have the H1N1 vaccine available. The public can also call the DHSS H1N1 Resource Center at 1-866-321-9571.

All of us can help stop the spread of flu by practicing common sense measures like covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands frequently, staying home when sick and getting an H1N1 flu shot.

All New Jerseyans should stay informed regarding H1N1 influenza. Residents can visit nj.gov/health for weekly updates on H1N1 influenza.  Additionally, the public can receive updated information by following DHSS on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NJFlu and by becoming a fan of the DHSS’ H1N1 Resource page on Facebook.

Individuals who follow the Department on Twitter can receive messages on their Twitter account or cell phone text messages several times a week with information regarding H1N1 influenza, including videos, tips on staying healthy and vaccine-related information.  The Department’s Facebook page also offers a wide range of information, including videos, audio clips, posters, flyers, press releases and updates on H1N1 influenza.

Remember, protect yourself, your family and your community.  Get vaccinated.


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