When the eligibility restrictions for the H1N1 vaccine were lifted, it opened up a whole new demographic of citizens able to finally take advantage.
Namely, citizens aged 65-and-older were now able to obtain the vaccination and federal and local governmental and health agencies have been urging senior citizens to take part.
Anne Schuchat, M.D., is the head of the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
She feels that many older Americans may believe that since older Americans weren’t initially classified as high risk, that the lull in confirmed H1N1 cases recently may have those citizens feeling as if the shot isn’t needed.
‘‘I think complacency is probably our top enemy right now,’’ Schuchat said in an interview with the AARP. ‘‘But there’s plenty of vaccine. It’s the time now for adults and seniors to be vaccinated.’’
Schuchat noted that of the approximately 60 million Americans that have already been vaccinated, the majority of that group is comprised of children.
Rob Sproul said that initially, the response to the restrictions was ample and that local residents were taking advantage and were inoculated following the December 14 policy shift.
But Sproul, a registered sanitarian with the Belmont County Health Department, also noted that the demand has since waned in the passing weeks.
‘‘It’s open to everyone now when before, it was just a restricted group and when it first opened up, a lot of the elderly came out to get the shot,’’ Sproul said. ‘‘We had pretty good numbers, but there is kind of a lull now.
‘‘It’s not really been in the news much.’’
Sproul explained that, as expected, the numbers of confirmed cases came in waves. The second wave has passed, but the CDC is recommended citizens to be vaccinated now to stave off a possible third wave. Or at minimum, it will at least help lessen the impact.
‘‘The best reason to get it? As a preventative measure,’’ Sproul said. ‘‘Everyone we’ve talked to that’s had the H1N1 virus said that it was really, really nasty for about five days and knocked them for a loop.
‘‘They say that they’ve never been that sick before.’’
Also, while seniors still aren’t considered high risk, they will inevitably come into contact with those who are, namely their grandchildren.
He also explained that another element that may have people hesitant of receiving the vaccination is the usual side effects of receiving such a vaccine.
It’s not uncommon for a person receiving the general influenza vaccine to feel some soreness and tenderness around the area of insertion. Some people also have mild symptoms mirroring the virus they wished to be vaccinated against.
But Sproul has found that with the H1N1 vaccine, that’s generally not the case.
‘’The general flu vaccine is made to combat three different strains of flue virus, where the H1N1 targets a specific strain,’’ Sproul said. ‘’We’ve found from talking to people that have received the vaccine that, usually, they weren’t experiencing the usually bout of tenderness and soreness.’’
Last week, President Barack Obama proclaimed it National Influenza Vaccination Week with an official designation. His goal was to increase, not only awareness, but participation in the inoculation program.
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Dolores Haughey, left, receives a vaccination against the H1N1 influenza from paramedic Jen Pometo at the Manheim Auto Auction in Cranberry, Pa. Senior citizens are being urged to receive the vaccine in an effort to stave off a potential third wave of the virus.