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Preventing H1N1 and the Flu for Those with Chronic Health Conditions

January 12, 2009

Filling the Vaccination Gap

During National Influenza Vaccination Week, the CDC is continuing its effort to promote H1N1 vaccination to those at high risk of complications, including people with pre-existing medical conditions or chronic health problems. According to CDC''s statistics, the 2009 H1N1 flu has caused more deaths among adults with chronic medical conditions than in any other group.

Unfortunately, many adults at high risk of complications from the flu have not been vaccinated yet. A Harvard School of Public Health poll conducted in December 2009 found that only 22 percent of adults prioritized to receive the H1N1 vaccine had done so. This includes pregnant women; adults with underlying chronic conditions that make them more vulnerable to flu complications; health and emergency personnel; adults who care for or live with children less than 6 months old; and young adults ages 18 to 24.

Another 31 percent intended to get the vaccine, but were avoiding the needle because of safety concerns or a belief that they would not be severely affected if they caught the bug and other reasons.

Facts about H1N1 and Chronic Health Conditions

  • As of Jan. 5, over 130 million doses of vaccine against 2009 H1N1 flu have been made available. This is an opportunity to protect as many people as possible against H1N1 before a potential third wave of infection begins in the spring.
  • It’s important to get vaccinated as complications from the flu can be severe—including pneumonia, bronchitis, acute respiratory distress symdrome (ARDS), and worsening of chronic medical conditions.
  • Vaccination is extremely important for those with chronic conditions—such as asthma, congestive heart failure, and diabetes because it can make those problems worse.
  • People with diabetes are three times more likely to die with flu and pneumonia. The American Diabetes association recommends that every person with diabetes receives a seasonal flu shot each year.

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