(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) The H1N1 pandemic is over, but there is only one way to make sure flu doesn’t come back into your life – get a flu shot every year.
“The Center for Disease Control recommends a yearly flu vaccination as the first and most important step in protecting against the flu,” said Dr. Albert Arteaga of LaSalle Medical Associates. “This year’s seasonal flu vaccine will protect you against H1N1 and two other types of flu viruses.”
“These three viruses are circulating in many parts of the world, and without immunizations, chances are you will come down with one of them,” Dr. Arteaga said.
“The H1N1 virus was especially powerful, causing many hospitalizations and deaths” he said. “It had never been detected in humans prior to 2009, which meant no one was immune.
“Now, many people are immune, but the best way to be sure is to have the vaccination,” Dr. Arteaga said. “Even if you have developed immunity to H1N1, you still may be susceptible to one of the other viruses that are making the rounds. They can be just as deadly.”
“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) 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, it is now recommended that everyone, ages 6 months and older, receive a seasonal flu vaccination, 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.”
Flu vaccines are available in two forms. The most common is the flu shot, an injected vaccine. A nasal spray vaccine is available as an alternative for most people ages 2 to 49.
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.”
About LaSalle Medical Associates
LaSalle Medical Associates, Inc., operates four clinics employing more than 120 dedicated healthcare professionals, treating children, adults, and seniors in San Bernardino County. LaSalle’s patients are primarily served by Medi-Cal and they also accept Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Molina, Care 1st, Health Net and Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP). LaSalle’s clinics are at 17577 Arrow Blvd. in Fontana, 16455 Main St. in Hesperia and 1505 West 17th St. and 565 N. Mt. Vernon Ave. in San Bernardino.
LaSalle Medical Associates, Inc., is also an Independent Practice Association (IPA) of independently contracted doctors, hospitals and clinics, delivering high quality care to more than 245,000 patients in Fresno, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Joaquin and Tulare Counties.
LaSalle’s IPA members in the Inland Empire include: LaSalle Medical Associates, Arrowhead Orthopedics, Arther Medical Group, Rancho Medical Group, Rancho Paseo Medical Group, Alessandro Medical Group Banning Medical Group, and San Bernardino Urological Associates. Hospital affiliations include: Rancho Springs Medical Center, Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, Community Hospital of San Bernardino, St. Bernadine Medical Center, Mountains Community Hospital, Redland Community Hospital, Loma Linda University Medical Center, Corona Regional Medical Center, Riverside County Medical Center, Parkview Community Hospital.