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2014 Influenza Message

Directors' Message: Howard Backer, MD, MPH, FACEP

Dear EMS Colleagues:

Happy New Year and here comes the flu. The seasonal flu epidemic has begun.  Cases of flu and hospitalizations from complications are rising in California. The predominant strain is H1N1, closely related to the 2009 H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic.  The bad news is that this strain is causing unusually high rates of serious illness and complications among young people and children.  The good news is that it is one of the strains included in the current flu vaccine and there is still time to receive the vaccine and to benefit from it over the coming weeks and months.

Get vaccinated through your health plan, provider's office, or any pharmacy chain.  Even if you never get sick from flu, you will be exposed through your work or social contacts.  You can be sure that you are now transporting patients sick from the flu who are coughing clouds of virus in the closed space of your ambulance. Vaccination can prevent a serious illness in you, but just as important, will keep you from spreading influenza to your family, friends, co-workers, and vulnerable patients.

The vaccine will prevent illness in otherwise healthy, non-elderly persons most of the time.  Even if you do get sick, you will shed less virus and will have milder illness if you have been vaccinated. It is important to note that the vaccine does not prevent other respiratory virus infections that circulate during the winter.

I hope that all of you stay healthy, but if you do become sick, please stay home and do not share your illness with your patients and colleagues.

Click Here for the Centers For Disease Control's Weekly Flu Update





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