H1N1 May Be Downgraded, But Flu Threat Remains
H1N1 is no longer considered a pandemic, but medical experts are saying that doesn't necessarily mean we're in the clear.
"The concern is still there, I guess the urgency has left a little bit," said Michael Saenz, pharmacy manager at the Walgreens on Mesa and Doniphan in the upper valley. He said since opening up their clinic last week, more than a dozen people have stepped up to get shot in the arm.
"It is a little early but they do recommend you start out early this year, even though they say the pandemic is over," Saenz said.
One way Walgreens is pushing to sell the shots - gift cards. It may not be as fun as a Starbucks or Best Buy gift card, but it's good for one flu shot. This year's vaccine includes both a seasonal and H1N1 strain, unlike last year.
"It was better to be prepared than to not be prepared and let a flu strain get out of control," said Todd chambers, director of infection prevention at Las Palmas Medical Center. He said last year's H1N1 scare wasn't blown out of proportion.
"The flu virus is the ultimate chameleon, we never truly know what strains are going to hit," Chambers said.
But people we spoke with didn't seem too worried.
"We don't usually get the flu; nobody in my family has ever gotten the flu," said Mary Escamilla, Walgreens shopper and the mother of a 3-year old.
"I hope I wont get it this year either," said Walgreens shopper Jose Hernandez. "I'm not worried about it."
Chambers reminds us that no vaccine is risk-free. But he says as kids start going back to school, it's important to get them vaccinated, and tell them to wash their hands and cough in crook of their arm, not their hand.