The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has designated January 10-16 as National Influenza Vaccination Week. Between April and mid-November, the U.S. had approximately 47 million cases of 2009 H1N1 flu, more than 200,000 hospitalizations and nearly 10,000 deaths, with the vast majority of deaths occurring in children and non-elderly adults, according to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
The number of people who get vaccinated against influenza typically drops after November, Sebelius said. HHS reported more than 188 million doses of H1N1 flu vaccine have been made available. HHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are urging Americans to get vaccinated against H1N1.
The HHS and CDC offer these tips:
- Get vaccinated for 2009 H1N1 influenza.
- Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer if soap and water not available.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue into the trash directly afterward. If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your shoulder or elbow.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Keep sick children at home.
- If you have flu-like symptoms (fever with a cough or sore throat), stay home until you are without a fever for 24 hours, without the use of medication.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota pays for the administration of H1N1 vaccines on all of its policies, according to company officials. BCBSND's standard benefits include covering vaccines recommended by the CDC with no out-of-pocket expenses to the member. H1N1 is recommended by the CDC.