Already had H1N1? Then no vaccine necessary

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SAY ‘AAAHH’: Nurse Carol Gelatt tests the temperature of a student at the health center. Getting a fever is one of the symptoms of H1N1; the virus is difficult to detect because many of its symptoms are like that of the seasonal flu. SHIRLEY CHEN / PHOTO
SAY ‘AAAHH’: Nurse Carol Gelatt tests the temperature of a student at the health center. Getting a fever is one of the symptoms of H1N1; the virus is difficult to detect because many of its symptoms are like that of the seasonal flu. SHIRLEY CHEN / PHOTO

By Patrick Bryant
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For junior Jingxuan Zhang, his bout with H1N1 started on Sept. 27. According to Zhang, on return from a trip with the marching band from Louisville, KY, he started to feel what he called “slightly feverish.”

“My symptoms were coughing, runny nose and high fever,” he said. He said he went to the doctor where he tested positive for H1N1. “They drew a couple vials of blood and tested my mucus,” he said.

Despite his illness, the silver lining to Zhang’s experience is he won’t need to wait in line to get a vaccine for H1N1 as it becomes available.

According to school nurse Carol Gelatt, once students get H1N1, they cannot get it again. However, she said it is very difficult to detect whether or not someone has H1N1 because the symptoms are nearly identical to a more seasonal flu.

“You have to be sure you actually have the virus and not ‘flu-like symptoms,’” Gelatt said. “A specimen needs to be collected and sent to a laboratory for proper diagnosis of H1N1.”

According to Joan Duwve, Medical Director for Public Preparedness for the Indiana State Department of Health, 99 percent of these lab-tested specimens are H1N1. She said the main reason so many people get H1N1 is because nobody has immunity to this new disease.

Duwve said there are two forms of the vaccine available including a traditional injection for anyone older than 6 months and a nasal spray.

According to Assistant Principal Doug Bird, the Hamilton County Health Department has made proposals for all schools to make available school-wide immunizations of students. “Our plan, hopefully, will accommodate as many students as possible,” Bird said.

Bird said the plan will involve students getting a permission slip signed if they want the H1N1 vaccination; when slips are returned, the respective number of doses will be ordered.

According to Principal John Williams, this immunization will not be run by school nurses, but rather by officials from the county’s health department.

“This is not a school thing, this is a health thing,” Williams said. “We think it’s a great community service. It will take a lot of cooperation from the kids.”

For Zhang, his stretch with H1N1 is something he said he doesn’t want to go through again. According to him, it didn’t compare to any other time he had been sick before. “It was like getting hit by a truck,” he said, “except without the broken body parts.”

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