Press Release

For Immediate Release
Jan 19, 2010
Contact : Elizabeth Dobis  
732-751-7537
edobis@meridianhealth.com

Meridian Health Encourages H1N1 Flu Awareness By Addressing Who Is At Risk

Who falls into “high-risk” groups and how to best protect them during the flu season  

Neptune, NJ - Some groups of people are highly susceptible to the H1N1 flu and have in turn been more adversely affected by it than others. Because of this, these groups need to take extreme caution in protecting themselves from contracting H1N1 flu.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) these “high-risk” groups include: •· Pregnant women because they are at higher risk of complications and can potentially provide protection to infants who cannot be vaccinated; •· Household contacts and caregivers for children younger than 6 months of age because younger infants are at higher risk of influenza-related complications and cannot be vaccinated. Vaccination of those in close contact with infants younger than 6 months old might help protect infants by “cocooning” them from the virus; •· Healthcare and emergency medical services personnel because infections among healthcare workers have been reported and this can be a potential source of infection for vulnerable patients. Also, increased absenteeism in this population could reduce healthcare system capacity; •· All people from 6 months through 24 years of age o· Children from 6 months through 18 years of age because cases of 2009 H1N1 influenza have been seen in children who are in close contact with each other in school and day care settings, which increases the likelihood of disease spread, and o· Young adults 19 through 24 years of age because many cases of 2009 H1N1 influenza have been seen in these healthy young adults and they often live, work, and study in close proximity, and they are a frequently mobile population; and, •· Persons aged 25 through 64 years who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza. “All of the high-risk groups are encouraged to receive the H1N1 vaccine, which does not replace the seasonal flu vaccine but is instead intended to be used along side it,” says Richard J. Scott, M.D. senior vice president of clinical effectiveness and medical affairs for Meridian Health. “H1N1 vaccine is available, but in small quantities for now, so it is important to remain patient.”

To learn more about the H1N1 vaccination and its availability, call your local or state health department, visit http://www.flu.gov/individualfamily/vaccination/index.html, or call the New Jersey Vaccine hotline at 866-321-9571.

For further information on the H1N1 virus or the seasonal flu, please visit meridianhealth.com/H1N1 or flu.gov.

Meridian Health is a family of not-for-profit health care organizations comprising Jersey Shore University Medical Center and K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in Neptune, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, and Meridian Partner Companies that include home health services, skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers, ambulatory care, ambulance services, and occupational health centers located throughout Monmouth and Ocean counties.

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