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    Flu expected in three waves

    You don’t want to sit in a doctor’s office while you are sick! Avoid seasonal flu by getting your flu shot. Children six months to 18 years old, and adults who either work in health care, infant care or essential community services such as police and fire protection can also receive a vaccine for H1N1 (a.k.a. “swine flu). Carl Dameron Photo

    (SAN BERNARDINO, CA) Flu season is attacking with a double punch this year.

    There is flu. And there is H1N1, also known as “swine flu.”

    Together, they’re making lots of people sick enough to warrant medical attention. A few are sick enough to need hospitalization, and because of the H1N1 flu, deaths have been reported in the Inland Empire this year.

    Flu outbreaks come in three waves, said Dr. Albert Arteaga, President of LaSalle Medical Associates. Fall and winter waves are usually more severe than spring, because virus strains (including H1N1) can become more aggressive.

    But there’s a way to put a stop to it, says Dr. Arteaga. If everyone received a flu shot, he points out, there would be no flu.

    “Ideally, everyone should be vaccinated,” Dr. Arteaga said. “But even if half of the population is immunized, there will be significant protection. That half of the population may prevent their neighbors from getting the flu as well. And if 75 percent of the population is immunized, we can stop the flu dead in its tracks.”

    Dr. Arteaga urges parents to have their children (and themselves, if they’re eligible) vaccinated against the H1N1 and seasonal flu viruses.

    “Children are especially at risk, because they have more opportunities to be exposed to the virus,” he said.

    Even though adults may be at somewhat less risk, almost everyone would benefit from a seasonal flu vaccine, Dr. Arteaga said. Those who imply flu vaccines are unnecessary and harmful, he said, are irresponsibly making light of the subject.

    “The benefit of flu vaccines has been proven over and over.”

    “The danger posed by the flu is real,” he continued. “Most strains of influenza, including H1N1 can cause body aches, coughs, sore throats, fevers above 100 degrees, headaches, vomiting and diarrhea. We have sometimes seen more serious consequences, even death with H1N1, but other types of flu can be equally dangerous.”

    Seasonal flu vaccines became available mid-October in somewhat limited quantity, with few limitations on who can receive these. On the other hand, the newly developed H1N1 vaccine is currently in very limited quantity, because vaccine manufacturers have not yet been able to grow a large enough culture to provide immunizations to all

    Therefore, county public health departments have each made their own recommendations as to who can receive the vaccine.

    In San Bernardino County, healthy children 2 through 18 years of age can receive the H1N1 vaccine. Also eligible are those ages 2 through 49 who have a baby 6 months or younger in their household and no medical conditions.

    An injectible form of the vaccine is available for health care and essential service providers such as police and firefighters who are ages 49 and younger and healthy. 

    The seasonal flu vaccine is available in two forms. The most common is the flu shot, an injected vaccine. A nasal spray, similar to that now offered for H1N1, is available as an alternative for most people ages 49 and younger.

    To limit the spread of flu, Dr. Arteaga urges anyone with symptoms to stay home from school and work until they are well, and limit contact with others. They also should contact a health care provider, especially if worried about the symptoms.

    Everyone should cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, and avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth, he said. Also, healthy people should to the extent possible, avoid contact with those who have flu symptoms.

    “Every time we wash our hands, and take precautions when we cough, there is less flu to go around,” Dr. Arteaga said.

    For more information about all types of flu, contact the Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov. or by calling 1-800-236-4636, or the California Department of Public Health at www.cdph.ca.gov or 1-888-865-0564.

    The San Bernardino County Public Health Department also can provide information on its toll-free number, 1-800-782-4264, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

    According to founder Dr. Arteaga, the primary mission of LaSalle’s clinics is “to offer high quality medical care to the whole family with courtesy and respect.”
    The LaSalle medical clinics are at 17577 Arrow Blvd. in Fontana, 1505 West 17th St. and 565 N. Mt. Vernon Ave. in San Bernardino, and 16455 Main St. in Hesperia
    For additional information about LaSalle Medical Associates, call (909) 890-0407 or go on line to www.lasallemedical.com.


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