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Flu Season Preparation Comes Early
Date:8/31/2009

lth workers to administer H1N1 vaccinations sometime in October. Everyone should get the seasonal flu shot as soon as possible, especially people who are considered high-risk for complications," explains Dr. Tom Hawkins, a Medical Director at BCBSMA.

It is estimated about ninety percent of Massachusetts' population will fall into the risk category recommended for seasonal flu vaccinations, while about half will fall into that category for the H1N1 (swine) flu vaccination (Boston Globe, "State Takes Extra Steps to Battle Flu in the Fall," August 13, 2009).

To find out if you are recommended to get either flu shot, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web site for details on both flu strains at:
H1N1 (Swine) Flu: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu
Seasonal Flu: www.cdc.gov/flu

People who are considered high-risk in Massachusetts can also call the Department of Public Health's (DPH) flu vaccine hotline toll free at (866) 627-7968 to obtain information about where and when they may receive a flu shot in their community.

Two Vaccines, One Set of Symptoms
The symptoms of the seasonal flu and the H1N1 (swine) flu are similar and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting.

Because the symptoms are similar, the treatment is similar as well.

"In many cases, your health care provider will advise lots of rest and fluids. Call your doctor if you have any concerns. If you find yourself experiencing severe symptoms, such as difficultly breathing or unconrollable vomiting, seek medical attention right away," added Dr. Hawkins.

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