H1N1 News

Dr. Dwight Williams: Don’t panic about flu

H1N1 flu is serious, but vaccinations are on the way

By Monica Hooper

Published: Sunday, September 20, 2009 12:12 PM CDT
With all of the concern surrounding the outbreak of the H1N1 virus, people are rushing to get flu shots, which Dr. Dwight Williams, the County Health Officer for Greene County and physician at Paragould Doctors Clinic and Research Center, said is important — but until a vaccine for the H1N1 virus is developed, people should practice caution.

“When you are ill or feverish, stay home,” Williams said. “After the fever has been down for 24 hours, you’re not contagious — assuming you’re not using Tylenol or something like that to keep [fever] down.”

The emergence of the H1N1 virus has many people scared and not without reason.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the outbreak of the H1N1 virus is at a “worldwide pandemic alert level phase six” — meaning the outbreak is occurring within individual communities, is being passed by human-to-human contact, and is present in more than two countries within the World Health Organization. In a statement on the CDC Web site the decision to declare the swine flu as a phase six pandemic “was a reflection of the spread of the new H1N1 virus, not the severity of illness caused by the virus.”

Though the H1N1 strain is relatively new, no one has said that it’s worse than seasonal flus.

“This year has been different because of the H1N1 virus — which is a mild flu — but it’s gotten a lot of press,” Williams said. “We don’t know that it’s a lot different (from seasonal flus). It’s still a respiratory illness. It’s fairly mild, lots of people will have it, and they’ll get antibodies from it (and) they’ll be immunized from that illness,” he said. The main difference is that H1N1 is hitting young people hardest — typically teenagers and young adults — and they are becoming “quite ill” from the virus.

Williams said, “the elderly, a lot of times, have more problems, so you hear more about those people getting sicker and even dying from it. We have 30-40,000 deaths a year from seasonal flu [in the United States], and that’s been in our culture for so long that not many people talk about it.” He added that many people who die from seasonal flu were suffering from other illnesses or diseases when they contracted the flu.

Still, as a result of the phase six pandemic status of the H1N1 virus, health departments are pushing to have a vaccination ready by October. There have been scattered reports stating that preliminary vaccinations can be administered in one shot.

Williams noted that some of the research for a one-shot vaccine is “promising,” but if a booster is required with the H1N1 vaccine, it will slow immunization time. CNN reported Friday that there is an inhalable vaccine in the works as well, which will help speed the vaccination process along, but it will still take some time.

“It’s not going to be vaccine that will totally immunize the nation in one month. It will most likely take 4-6 months,” Williams said. And there is no guarantee that the vaccine will be ready next month.

“They’re still telling us mid- to late October and that the plan for the health department is to schedule (mass) vaccination clinics” for the community, he said.

According to www.healthyarkansas.com, there is a mass immunization clinic for seasonal flu scheduled from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 30 at Eastside Baptist Church, located at 529 Court St. in Paragould. There is also a drive-thru clinic scheduled at ASU-Jonesboro from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 29. Whether or not the vaccine for H1N1 will be available depends on when the vaccine will be released.

The CDC advises that “pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age, health care and emergency medical workers, people between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old and people with compromised immune systems should get the vaccines first.”

However, until the vaccine is ready, if someone is afraid that they are getting the flu, they should monitor their symptoms and stay away from others. The symptoms of the H1N1 strain are the same as most flus: fever of more than 100 degrees, coughing, sore throat, headaches, fatigue, chills and body aches. Williams stressed that body aches are a major indication of the flu.

“If you see someone who is ill or coughing and sneezing, you should avoid them, and they would, hopefully, want to avoid other people, but sometimes you see people working sick.”

He added, “Some people say, ‘My immune system is down.’ There is testing to determine if you really have a condition,” Williams explained. Only a doctor can determine if someone is suffering from the swine flu or a seasonal flu.

According to the CDC, if a person does contract H1N1, they should stay away from other people and contact a doctor for testing.

Here is the link for this page:

+ Here is another great article that gives some information that is key to us as college kids!!!


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License