No one is invulnerable

Tough economic times can make it harder to take care of your health. But there's one key step Buncombe County residents can take that costs nothing.

Young adults, in particular, may think they can handle anything, but H1N1 flu (sometimes called "swine flu") can still bring them down in a serious way. nationwide, H1N1 has hit young adults extremely hard this season. That's why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging everyone ages 19 to 24 to get the H1N1 vaccine.

Across the country, college students have been slammed by this new virus. Many have learned the hard way that being young doesn't mean you can't get sick from the flu. Individuals' reactions to the H1N1 virus have ranged from mild to severe. And though most people have recovered without needing medical treatment, hospitalizations and deaths have occurred due to flu infection, even in young, otherwise-healthy people. H1N1 flu is not a disease to be taken lightly.

The extent of H1N1 infection among young adults has been alarming. To date, the highest number of confirmed cases of H1N1 flu across the country have been among young adults, and about one-third of the people hospitalized with this virus were otherwise healthy. Despite these numbers, though, local surveys indicate that many young adults are not aware they're at high risk for H1N1 infection.  Some perceive the publicity concerning the disease to be a lot of hype, and they may even believe that the vaccination poses a greater risk than the illness itself.  But these attitudes contradict the reality of the situation: Young adults are getting sick from H1N1, and vaccination is the best defense against the illness.

But there's a lot more at stake than individuals' health. Since many young adults are regularly around a wide variety of people — including family members, friends, co-workers and fellow students — they're more likely to be exposed to this virus and expose others to it. This is the time of life when people begin to assume responsibility for their own health and well-being. Vaccination is important not only to protect yourself from flu and its potential complications, but also to protect those around you.

And if you think it's too late to worry about flu vaccine, think again. Doctors know that the flu season can last as late as May, so vaccination and everyday preventive actions such as washing hands continue to be important ways to take a stand against getting sick and becoming a carrier.

"Our young people are our greatest resource, and we want to make sure they remain healthy," emphasizes State Health Director Jeffrey Engel. "The peak of seasonal flu is approaching in late January. Getting both vaccinations now is the best way to protect yourself and your family against both seasonal and H1N1 flu." My own college-age son followed this advice and got vaccinated over the holidays.

Concerned about potential side effects? Rest assured that the H1N1 vaccine is produced the same way as seasonal flu vaccines, and millions of people across the country have safely received the H1N1 vaccine. Most side effects have been similar to those seen with the regular seasonal flu vaccine: soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given; headache, muscle aches, fever and nausea. If these problems do arise, it's usually soon after the vaccination, and they typically last one to two days.

And don't worry: You can't get the flu from the flu shot, because it contains inactivated (killed) viruses that cannot cause the illness. If someone you know got the flu soon after getting the vaccine, they were probably exposed to the virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the two-week period it takes the body to gain protection after vaccination.

So get out there and get vaccinated! Remember, protecting yourself protects others too. And if you can't stand needles, no worries: The H1N1 flu vaccine comes in a nasal spray, too.

To schedule an appointment, contact your doctor or call the Buncombe County Health Department at 259-3000. It's free, and if you have an appointment, there's no waiting. So what are you waiting for?

For more information, visit, or call the Buncombe County flu hot line at 250-6400.

Gibbie Harris is director of the Buncombe County Health Department.
Vaccination is important not only to protect yourself from flu but also to protect those around you.

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One thought on “No one is invulnerable

  1. charles mcmahan

    The commentary “No One is Invulnerable” by Buncombe County Health Department director Gibbie Harris does a disservice to the community. She fails to mention that swine flu vaccines have been universally rejected by the majority of Americans. Reporting for the Natural News on January 17, 2010 Mike Adams states that “61 million Americans were vaccinated against swine flu (about 20% of the U.S. population). The CDC calls this a “success” even though it means 4 out of 5 people rejected the vaccines.” Why have the majority rejected the vaccines? The fact is that people are becoming more aware of the dangers of vaccines. The evidence reveals that vaccines have a myriad of toxic side effects that render them more dangerous than the diseases they are supposed to prevent.
    Especially disturbing is Ms. Harris’ statement that vaccination is the best defense against the swine flu. In the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic the best treatment was found to be homeopathy. An article from the journal Clinical Medicine published in 1921 offers the following quote by T.G. Barnhill M.D. of Findlay, Ohio: “I treated 455 cases of influenza and 26 cases of pneumonia with no deaths. Remedies: Gelsemium, Bryonia, Epis, etc.” Clinical Medicine also quotes W.L Love M.D. of Brooklyn, N.Y: “The importance of homeopathic remedies has been emphasized; 24 out of 42 cases who used vaccines had influenza and there were eight cases of pneumonia-so vaccines as a prophylactic failed.”
    In fact there is a concerted effort on the part of the drug companies to shove vaccines down the throats of the people. The World Health Organization, The Center for Disease Control, the news media, and various governmental agencies and individuals have a vested interest in pushing these poisons on the unsuspecting and naïve. The reaction of those who are neither speaks volumes. When health care workers in New York State faced a government mandated swine flu shot they rebelled. New York backed down after a judge issued a restraining order against the forced shots.
    The biggest question about the swine flu vaccine is one that the CDC and Ms. Harris have failed to ask or answer: How many people who died from the swine flu were vaccinated. Natural News reporter Mike Adams continues: “Many who died had already been vaccinated. The CDC is intentionally not tracking how many of the dead were previously vaccinated. They want you (and mainstream media journalists) to mistakenly believe that zero deaths occurred in those who were vaccinated. But this is blatantly false. Being vaccinated against H1N1 swine flu offers absolutely no reduction in mortality from swine flu infections.” In other words the vaccine does not work.
    The bottom line is that the swine flu vaccine is dangerous and ineffective. Precautions such as good hygiene, vitamin D supplementation, homeopathic remedies, and other simple treatments are a better strategy. Ms. Harris would do the public a service by discussing safer and more effective options for dealing with the flu rather than just pushing vaccines.
    C.L. McMahan

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