Information about H1N1

Information about H1N1
Frequently Asked Questions
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
HEALTH - SWINE FLU
ARE THERE MEDICINES TO TREAT H1N1 FLU?
Yes.  The antiviral medications Tamiflu and Relenza are sometimes used to treat influenza, including H1N1 flu, but most people don’t need them.  People with underlying medical conditions that put them at risk for influenza complications might benefit from antiviral medications.  Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body.  The antiviral drugs can make influenza milder and speed up recovery time.  They may also prevent serious flu complications.  For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms).
CAN MY CHILD RECEIVE THE H1N1 FLUMIST AND SEASONAL FLUMIST?

 

Yes, but the doses must be at least 4 weeks apart if both are the FluMist.  If one of the vaccines is the injectable (shot) or if both are the injectable (shot), there is no minimum time that you must wait between doses.

 

H1N1 Vaccine

Seasonal Flu Vaccine

Minimum time interval between doses

FluMist

FluMist

4 weeks

FluMist

Injectable

No minimum time interval

Injectable

FluMist

No minimum time interval

Injectable

Injectable

No minimum time interval

CAN MY CHILD RECEIVE THE H1N1 FLUMIST VACCINE IF HE/SHE CAN NOT RECEIVE THE SEASONAL FLUMIST?
No.  Both vaccines are live vaccines and therefore if your child cannot receive one FluMist (H1N1 or Seasonal) vaccine then your child cannot receive the other.  Your child should receive the injectable (shot) for both the H1N1 and seasonal vaccine
DOES THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT HAVE THIMEROSAL (A TYPE OF PRESERVATIVE) FREE VACCINE?
We have ordered doses of thimerosal free vaccine for pregnant women and younger children. 
DOES THE SEASONAL FLU VACCINE PROVIDE PROTECTION AGAINST H1N1?
No.  The seasonal flu vaccine does not provide protections against H1N1 nor does the H1N1 vaccine provide protection against flu.  If indicated, you should receive both vaccines.
HOW DOES H1N1 FLU SPREAD?
H1N1 flu is contagious and is spreading from person to person.  Spread of H1N1flu is thought to happen in the same way that seasonal flu spreads.  Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza.  Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
HOW LONG CAN SOMEONE WITH THE H1N1 FLU INFECT SOMEONE ELSE?
Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7-10 days after becoming sick.  That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
HOW MANY DOSES DO I NEED?
Persons 10 years of age and older only need one dose of the vaccine.  Children less than 10 require 2 doses of either the H1N1 FluMist or the H1N1 Shot separated by at least 4 weeks.
IF I HAVE A FAMILY MEMBER AT HOME WHO IS SICK WITH H1N1 FLU, SHOULD I GO TO WORK OR SCHOOL?
People who are well but have an ill family member at home with H1N1 flu can go to work or school as usual.  Theses people should monitor their health every day, and take everyday precautions as mentioned above.  If they become ill, they should not go to work or school until they are fever free for 24 hours without using fever reducing medication.
IS THE H1N1 FLUMIST (NASAL SPRAY) BETTER THAN THE H1N1 SHOT (OR VICE VERSA)?
Studies have shown that the protection received from the FluMist and the shot are about the same and therefore one is not better than the other.
IS THE VACCINE SAFE?
The H1N1 vaccine is made the same way the seasonal flu vaccine is made.  If you have received the seasonal flu vaccine in the past without any problems, you should be fine to receive the H1N1 vaccine.
SHOULD I GET THE H1N1 VACCINE IF I HAD THE H1N1 FLU ALREADY?
The symptoms of the H1N1 flu are similar to those caused by other viruses.  Even when influenza viruses are causing large numbers of people to get sick, other viruses are also causing illnesses.  Specific testing, called “RT-PCR test” is needed in order to tell if an illness is caused by the H1N1 flu virus.  This test is different from the rapid flu tests that doctors can do in their officers.  Rapid tests do not confirm H1N1 infection.  Unless you had a RT-PCR test to confirm H1N1 infections (not a rapid test done in the doctors office), you should be vaccinated with the H1N1 vaccine.
SHOULD I GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM IF I AM ONLY A LITTLE SICK?
No, the emergency room should be used for people who are very sick. You should not go to the emergency room if you are only mildly ill.  However, if you have emergency warning signs of flu sickness, you should go to the emergency room.  If you get sick with flu symptoms and are at high risk of flu complications or you are concerned about your illness, call your health care provider for advice. If you go to the emergency room and you are not sick with the flu, you may catch it from people who have it.
WHAT ABOUT PEOPLE OVER THE AGE OF 64?
H1N1 flu seems to affect younger people rather than older people.  One theory is that those that are 65 and older have at some point in their lives been exposed to a flu virus similar to the current H1N1 and have developed some immunity to this current virus.  People 65 and older will be offered the H1N1 vaccine once the other groups have been vaccinated.
WHAT ARE THE EMERGENCY WARNING SIGNS THAT NEED URGENT MEDICAL ATTENTION?

If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.

In children
• Fast breathing or trouble breathing
• Bluish skin color
• Not drinking enough fluids
• Not waking up or not interacting
• Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
• Fever with a rash

In adults
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
• Sudden dizziness or confusion
• Severe or persistent  vomiting
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

WHAT ARE THE PRIORITY GROUPS FOR THE H1N1 VACCINE?

Priority groups include:

1. Pregnant women
2. People who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age
3. Health care and emergency medical service (EMS) workers
4. People 6 months to 24 years of age
5. People 25-64 years of age with medical conditions that would place them at a higher risk for flu and flu complications.

Once these target groups have been vaccinated, vaccine will be made available to everyone from ages 25 through 64 years.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF H1N1 FLU IN PEOPLE?
The symptoms of H1N1 flu in people are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.  A significant number of people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with H1N1 flu.  Like seasonal flu, H1N1 flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.
WHAT CAN I DO TO PROTECT MYSELF FROM GETTING SICK?

Get vaccinated against H1N1flu and take these everyday actions to protect your health and your family.

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.  Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.  If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your sleeve.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.  Alcohol- based hand cleaners are also effective.

• Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.  Germs spread this way.

• Avoid contact with sick people.

• If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others.

WHAT IS H1N1 (SWINE) FLU?

H1N1 (swine) flu is a new influenza virus causing illness in people.  The virus has been spreading from person-to-person, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread.

WHAT IS THE COST OF THE H1N1 VACCINE?
There is no cost for the H1N1 vaccine.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I GET SICK?
You should take care of yourself at home like you would with any illness.  Drink lots of clear fluid, take medicine to lower your fever, and rest.  Stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick.  You will help prevent others from getting sick.  People with the flu should stay away from others for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone, without the use of a fever-lowering medicine.
WHEN AND WHERE WILL THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT BE GIVING THE H1N1 VACCINE?
We have administered H1N1 FluMist to healthy children in many elementary and middles schools throughout the county; and we scheduled  community clinics for some of the priority populations. Additional school-based and community clinics will be scheduled based upon vaccine availability. Since Harford County is smaller than some of our surrounding counties, our vaccine deliveries have been smaller, but we expect more vaccine. Please keep checking our website (www.harfordcountyhealth.com) for updated information or call our Flu Information Line at 410-612-1779 for a recorded H1N1 message. Please check with your health care provider because many health care providers are also receiving H1N1 vaccine for their patients.
WHEN SHOULD I CALL MY DOCTOR?
Most people with H1N1 flu have had mild illness and have not needed medical care or antiviral drugs and the same is true of seasonal flu.  However, some people are more likely to get flu complications and they should talk to their health care provider about whether they need to be examined if they develop flu symptoms.
WHERE CAN I GET ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON H1N1?
The Health Department web site www.harfordcountyhealth.com has current information about H1N1 clinics and provides direct links to CDC www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/ and DHMH www.flu.maryland.gov  and www.flu.gov
WHO CAN GET THE FLUMIST (NASAL SPRAY)?
The nasal spray or FluMist is approved for healthy people 2-49 years of age.