By R.J. Heckelman
In the Bay Area alone, 16 people have reportedly died from this season’s, H1N1, or “Swine Flu.” One of the victims, a resident of Santa Rosa, was only 23 years old. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the man’s family said that he was not properly diagnosed with the H1N1 virus until it was too late to save his life.
The victim, Matthew Walker, was admitted to Kaiser Permanente hospital in Santa Rosa after he claimed to have difficulty breathing on Friday, December 27. The previous day he had been incorrectly diagnosed with pneumonia. After a few days his condition worsened, and doctors were forced to put him in a medically induced coma. Five days after he was admitted to Kaiser, Walker died.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness, caused by the influenza virus. Primarily it is contracted by physical contact with those who are ill. During the flu season, it is recommended by the CDC to wash your hands with antibacterial soap whenever possible, especially after being in a public place like school. Generally young children, seniors, and those with chronic respiratory illnesses are more susceptible to getting the virus. However, this year’s strain seems to be different. It is affecting young adults, ages 20-35, more than any other age group.
Ato Houston, a 37-year-old COM transfer student, said, “I am very concerned about getting the flu. Because for me that could mean months in the hospital, or the worst.” Houston is concerned because he is a heart transplant patient, and respiratory illnesses affect him more than other people.
Seasonal flu shots are being offered at both College of Marin campuses for free. Due to the severity of this season’s flu, students are highly recommended to take advantage of this opportunity. You can get a flu shot at either campus through the College Health Center. There are clinic times for the Kentfield Campus posted online, as well as the above fact box. Indian Valley Campus students will have to set up an appointment for their shot by calling (415) 485-9458.
The CDC says that getting the Flu Vaccine is the first and most important step in prevention from getting the H1N1 virus. Even if you already had the flu this season, or a cold with flu-like symptoms, the CDC recommends that you still get vaccinated, because the vaccine protects against three common types of influenza.
They also recommend that anyone six months and older should get vaccinated, especially those with asthma or other respiratory illnesses. If you have trouble breathing, a persistent cough, sore throat, runny nose, fever, nausea, or any combination of these symptoms see a doctor immediately if symptoms persist or progress for more than 36 hours.
According to College of Marin’s website, marin.edu, “You can get a flu shot on either campus through the College Health Center at various times during the week. Anyone wishing to receive a shot must be at least 18 years old. The Health Center is not a Medicare provider and is not able to bill insurance plans. We are reserving the remaining flu shots for students, faculty and staff only. Faculty and staff: $10; Students: free.”
ASCOM has donated money to supply free flu shots to students this semester. Flu shots are in limited supply, so get one as soon as possible to protect yourself.