This flu season, one flu virus is predicted to hit hard, making it the worst flu season this country has seen in a long time. We're talking about the H1N1 virus, or 'Swine Flu' – the same flu that hit last year and caused a global pandemic. As the weather turns colder in parts of the country and many of us are forced to stay indoors, the risk for catching H1N1 rises greatly. And guess who's most at risk when that happens? Experts tell us...it's you.
There are 55 million students and 7 million staff at more than 130,000 public and private schools in the United States. Swine Flu is spread from person-to-person, by coughing, sneezing and touching. And studies have shown the Swine Flu virus can even "live" on a doorknob, book, desk or chair for 2 to 8 hours, too. With so many people in such close quarters for such long periods of time at school, it's easy to see why experts say kids and teenagers are at such high risk.
Then there's the new H1N1 vaccine. It started arriving in hospitals and at doctors' offices this week. Great, right? The problem is many parents – two-thirds, a recent poll says – don't want to give the vaccine to their kids. They think it was rushed into production and not tested enough. What this means is that two-thirds of the country's kids and teens won't be vaccinated against H1N1. They could catch it and spread it around at school, at the mall, at a party...Not good.
Your best defense against this deadly disease is to be educated. And to wash your hands. A lot. For more info about the H1N1 virus, the vaccination, and "What You Can Do to Stay Healthy," visit the CDC website at cdc.gov.