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Holiday travel creates increased risk of spreading H1N1

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Health officials are concerned a third wave of the H1N1 virus will strike in January when people return from Christmas break.

With so many people traveling across the country this holiday season, this pandemic will likely spread even more, just as the regular flu season hits.

Twenty-five-year-old Leslie Kammer has not received the H1N1 vaccine. “I hadn’t thought about it before, and I don’t really have any concerns, though I don’t think my family has been vaccinated either.”

Kammer’s family is flying in from Ohio for the holidays. Right now, the southeast is heavily affected by H1N1, but some other parts of the country haven’t seen as many cases.

After the holidays, health officials expect a spike in swine flu because travelers will likely be exposed to the virus and bring it home with them. Officials say the best way to stop this kind of outbreak is to get as many people vaccinated as possible; they’re calling it “herd immunity”.

“People my age, I asked them if they’ve gotten their shot, and they say no, they don’t have to get it because they’re not at risk,” said Brunswick County Health Director Don Yousey. “And that’s a common misunderstanding. We had those groups that were target groups, people with chronic illnesses, young people because they were showing more response to this virus, but old people also are at risk, because we have those confounding illnesses that they expect to find, asthmas, diabetes, heart conditions, and if you get this virus with those conditions, you are at great risk of becoming terribly, terribly ill.”

As of Monday, the Brunswick County Health Department opened up the H1N1 vaccine to the general public. Everyone older than six months is encouraged to get vaccinated.

Yousey said, “If you haven’t had the shot, you need to get it.”

“I hadn’t planned on getting vaccinated, I guess I’m one of those people who thinks it won’t happen to me, but maybe it’s something I should be concerned about,” Kammer said.

By Thursday, all Brunswick County schools will have been offered the seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccines.

If you would like to make an appointment, call 253-2344 and a nurse will call you back to help you choose the best vaccine for you, because there are a variety of types.

People in other counties should check with their respective health departments.

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Story summary

videoHealth officials are concerned a third wave of the H1N1 virus will strike in January when people return from Christmas break.

With so many people traveling across the country this holiday season, this pandemic will likely spread even more, just as the regular flu season hits.

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Associated poll

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