Last year, the H1N1 virus, more commonly known as the “swine flu,” swept across the country. Between April and November 2009 alone, it infected approximately 47 million Americans, contributing to more than 200,000 hospitalizations and nearly 10,000 deaths.
But the public-private sector response to the outbreak has been equally sweeping. Local, state and federal officials joined forces with scientists, manufacturers, and health providers in the Commonwealth to distribute the H1N1 vaccine and educate the public about the flu and ways to prevent its spread.
These efforts are working. According to Center for Disease Control, the virus is on the decline in Virginia and nationwide. Still, flu season is unpredictable (it usually lasts until May), so it’s important that all Virginians remain vigilant about preventing its spread.
The best way you can do this is to get vaccinated. Extensive testing and monitoring have shown that the H1N1 vaccine is not only safe, but is also an excellent match for combating the most common strain of the virus. Over 110 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine are now available, with more coming every day.
While adults only need one dose of the H1N1 vaccine, children 9 years of age and younger will need two doses to be fully protected. Children ages 2 to 8 will need two doses of seasonal vaccine as well if they have never received the seasonal flu vaccine before.
Make sure your child has received his or her second dose of the vaccine, and if you have not already, go to your local clinic, doctor’s office or pharmacy and get vaccinated. You can locate a provider near you through the easy-to use search engine at www.flu.gov or call 1‐800‐CDC‐INFO (800‐232‐4636).
Rep. James Moran (D) is Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.