Swine flu effects severe in the young and healthyLily Boisson – The Aquinian
If you think the flu is only dangerous to the sick and the elderly, H1N1 might force you to reconsider.
Recent information about the swine flu suggests the virus is more likely to be severe in relatively healthy young people.
As the country’s largest immunization program in history gets underway, students are urged to line up for the H1N1 vaccine.
Swine flu vaccination clinics in New Brunswick started this week
A Canadian study found that relatively healthy adolescents and adults between the ages of 10 and 60 were most likely be seriously ill or die of the virus.
The study also found that First Nations women are particularly vulnerable to the virus.
Studies in the United States echo these results.
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, an alarming number of people under 18 are dying of H1N1-related complications.
That country has declared the swine flu break out a national emergency.
The number of deaths has already surpassed expectations for the entire flu season.
“This is exactly why we are taking this so seriously,” says Ryan Sullivan, who is heading the STU division of the Pandemic Preparedness Committee.
Dr. Joanne Majerovich heads the Student Health Centre.
She says that pandemics tend to affect a different younger demographic.
“The reasons for this are not entirely clear but, it is thought that because pandemic viruses appear infrequently , they seems to more severely affect those whose immune system have less overall experience, hence younger age groups,” she said. “Those who have other medical conditions or are very young are still the most vulnerable to this virus.”
The controversial H1N1 vaccine is one way to fight the virus, but not all students are lining up
Adam Wright is a third year student who says he’s not planning on getting any vaccines this season.
“Well I use to have the flu shot every year, but I always got sick [once] a year, really bad. Then one year I missed my appointment and didn’t get [the flu shot],” he said. “I didn’t get sick. I haven’t had the flu shot in four years, and haven’t had a major flu.”
The H1N1 vaccine was approved last Wednesday but Canadian trials only started last week. The decision to approve the vaccine was based on small European studies.
But Dr. Majerovich says the vaccine is safe.
“Although the H1N1 flu virus is new and different, the process for making the flu vaccine is not.” The vaccine has already been administered to thousands of Europeans.
Sullivan says that until then students are advised to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer and sneeze or cough into their sleeves.
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