People need to be prepared for the H1N1 Swine flu

In the USA health officials decided to immunize children against the H1N1 flu by administering shots at school. They are going to return to that method of mass inoculation, in order to stop the spread of the deadly virus among schoolchildren. The 5-to-24-year-old age group was the hardest struck by the virus last spring, when it first arrived in the United States.

About a dozen or so school districts in Southeastern Massachusetts have discussed the feasibility of inoculating children at school with state health officials, with Braintree perhaps being the furthest along. The town plans to administer seasonal flu shots to middle and high school students most likely this month and H1N1 inoculations in November, both during school hours.

Nearby Randolph is formalizing plans for seasonal flu shots to be given on a Saturday later this month, and H1N1 vaccinations most likely during school time in November. In Quincy, health officials say discussion is still “fluid,’’ but it appears students will be given shots at school. Plymouth, too, is looking at how to implement an immunization program for its middle- and upper-grade students during the school day, at least for the seasonal flu, Boston Globe reports.

Port Huron Times Herald quoted Sue Amato, the spokeswoman for the St. Clair County Health Department, as saying, "People don't need to panic and be fearful of this. As we know it now, it is another strain of flu. It is not something we need to worry and be afraid of. It is just not to that point."

But people need to be prepared.

That's why the health department and area schools continue to work toward educating area residents on how best to prevent an outbreak.

Amato said the health department also is encouraging people to get regular flu vaccinations, which are on hand.

Health department clinics for regular flu shots will be scheduled soon, while many drug stores and health care providers already are making vaccines available, Port Huron Times Herald reports.

News agencies reported that Swine flu, or H1N1, was first isolated in a pig in 1930, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus has demonstrated an ability to migrate from domestic pigs to humans. Dr. Mazlen, an internist in Rosyln Heights, NY, said there are several factors contributing to the current swine flu outbreak, including environmental, cultural and economic issues.

"The current recession, loss of retirement funds, compromised nutrition, reduced exercise, obesity and other factors produce immune depression. A depressed immune system cannot fight off the invasion of viral and other pathogens that attempt to find a home to set up infections in our bodies," he says.

Dr. Mazlen suggests protection strategies for a potentially larger H1N1 outbreak during the 2009 through 2010 flu season. "Frequent hand washing is a start. Also, lots of daily water helps to hydrate the body and assist the immune system," he said. Vitamin and mineral supplements add fortification, but Dr. Mazlen suggested also adding fish oil because of its clinically-proven immune function support, Chipley Florida Online Newspaper reports.

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