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Swine Flu Pandemic: Are You in Danger?

The swine flu pandemic is causing concern all over the world. The outbreak is a pandemic so that means it’s not confined to a specific geographic area. More than 9,500 people worldwide have been afflicted with the illness. Eighty of those people have died, and that number is expected to rise. Anyone anywhere in the world can get swine flu, but some people are at greater risk than others.

The Age Factor

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports people between the ages of 5 – 24 years are a high risk group for swine flu.

Elderly people are normally affected the most by seasonal flu. Swine flu is different in that it affects younger people more severely. The reason for this difference is unknown, but CDC officials believe older people may have a natural immunity to the illness.

Chronic Illness

If you suffer from a chronic illness, your chances of catching swine flu increase. A chronic illness is any ailment that lasts for a long period of time, usually for the duration of a person’s life. Some examples are back pain, sinusitis, and asthma.

People with chronic illnesses often have weakened immune systems. This puts them at risk for developing seasonal flu and pneumonia. The World Health Organization (WHO) found the majority of severe swine flu cases occurred in people with chronic illnesses.

Anyone with a chronic illness is at risk, regardless of age. However, people with lung and heart problems are at an increased risk. People who have HIV or undergo chemotherapy are also at high risk because their immune systems are weak. Children younger than 5 years are also in this category because their immune systems haven’t fully developed.

Should You Get Vaccinated?

Health officials want everyone to receive the vaccination. However, there won’t be enough for everyone to get vaccinated all at once. So health officials recommend people in the following groups receive the vaccination first:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children and adults between the ages of 6 months to 24 years.
  • Health care workers and emergency responders, such as doctors, nurses, and firefighters.
  • People with chronic illnesses.
  • People who take care of small children on a daily basis, such as kindergarten and pre-school teachers.

Some people are advised to not get the vaccine, even if they’re in a high risk category. If you are allergic to eggs, previous flu vaccines, or are extremely ill you’re advised against getting the swine flu vaccination.

Prevention is the Best Option

There is no way to be certain you won’t get the swine flu. However, there are precautions you can take to decrease your risk of exposure. Here are some tips:

Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare for the upcoming flu season. The threat of swine flu is real, but there’s no need for alarm. Protect yourself and reduce your risk of infection.