H1N1 still a threat

9 Mar 2010 | Lance Cpl. Victor A. Barrera

2009 was a year of firsts, the first African-American president for the United States, first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics and the first time since 1968 that the World Health Organization issued a global pandemic for influenza.

Since the H1N1 virus’ first outbreaks in North America in April 2009, it has claimed more than 13,000 lives. In June 2009 the WHO declared H1N1 a global pandemic. The virus is unusual because children and young adults are most susceptible, according to the Web site,

According to the WHO however, the H1N1 flu pandemic is not over. January 15, a worldwide update by the organization stated that “208 countries and overseas territories have reported laboratory-confirmed cases of the pandemic H1N1 flu virus.”

Since then people became desperate for a vaccine, something that would protect them and their family from the deadly virus.

A question on a lot of people’s minds is what can be done to prevent them from catching the virus, said Georgette Dougherty, a public health emergency officer with Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune. There is a simple solution that is readily available.

“The best defense against the flu epidemic is to receive a vaccination,” said Dougherty. “It’s the best protection that anyone can receive.”

More than 75 percent of both the Navy and the Marine Corps have already received their vaccinations. Dougherty hopes she can reach out to the other 25 percent as well as spouses and children of service members.

The urge for service members and their families to receive the vaccination comes from findings that are unique to the new strain of the virus.

“Unlike typical seasonal flu patterns, the new virus caused high levels of summer infections in the northern hemisphere and even higher levels of activity during cooler months in that part of the world,” stated the WHO’s Web site,

Both the Center for Disease Control and Dougherty highly recommend people receive the vaccine.

“Everyone should get it, it is no longer restricted to any age group except for infants under six months old,” said Dougherty. “Pregnant women are eligible for the vaccination as well, and it is highly recommended that they receive it.”

Anybody who will be taking care of babies younger that six months of age should get a seasonal flu shot as well as a H1N1 flu shot, stated the CDC.

People can walk in to the Family Practice Clinic at the Naval Hospital anytime between 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, to receive their vaccinations, said Dougherty.

Although research continues on the H1N1 virus, the best protection offered at the moment is the vaccination, added Dougherty.