Who needs which flu shot & why

September 6, 2009

Dr.Topham, an immunologst at the University of Rochester, explains the risks.

"Anytime a new pathogen gets introduced to the human population, it's going to have an enhanced ability to spread from person to person and establish itself in that population, and that's what these viruses do," he says.

And the H1 N1 virus WILL spread, he says.

Experts think about a 10th of all New Yorkers were infected when the virus first appeared last spring.

Over the summer, infection rates have slowed in our area, but they could rev up again soon.

"We might see the flu season this year starting when school starts in September; earlier than flu season," says Topham.

And schools and colleges present a unique situation.... Close quarters for young people who seem to be more susceptible to the virus.

Topham believes, "It's unusual in that it's made young adults, who are typically fairly resistant to influenza, it's made them relatively ill."

But older people seem to have some resistance to the new flu strain. Still there is great that the H1 N1 virus, which is fairly mild now, will become more dangerous.

He says, "We don't know if it will ever mutate into a more deadly form. It could just as easily mutate into a less deadly form."

The H1N1 flu could virtually replace all other flu strains.

Indeed, the latest results from the World Health Organization indicate that H1N1 is THE dominant strain of flu circulating. There's been very little of other A-type strains, and virtually no B-type strains, even in countries where this is winter, the traditional flu season.

Regardless, you should do what you can to prevent getting sick.

The best ways are:

*To wash your hands frequently.

*If you smoke, quit. Smokers are more vulnerable to any respiratory virus.

*Get vaccinated against the seasonal flu as soon as you can.

*And if you can get the H1 N1 vaccine, get it.

That H1N1 vaccine is due to arrive by mid-October. The first shots will go to pregnant women, children, and young adults.

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