Young Adults Prime Target for H1N1

Fresno, CA Eighteen year old Abby Mettlach of Fresno will start college in three weeks. She's healthy and athletic and her mother, Krissy, says she probably won't vaccinate Abby for the H1N1 flu virus.

Krissy said, "I feel like hygiene ... maybe washing your hands ... just being aware of your surroundings a little more is enough."

Health experts say hand-washing is important ... but may not be enough. The Centers for Disease Control reports that 50 percent of all cases of H1N1 have been in those five to 24 years old. Dr. Larry Satkowiak is an emergency physician at Children's Hospital Central California. He says much like meningitis, the H1N1 flu virus can enter a college environment and spread very quickly.

Dr. Satkowiak said, "Young people are in more frequent contact with other people who may have the virus - especially college age students. Students living in dorms, people congregating in groups together are more likely to spread it. And you're also more likely to get increased viral load from somebody else."

The Fresno State Health center is gearing up for what it expects will be a busy fall semester ... with 22-thousand students at the university and flu season just around the corner.

Health Center Director Joyce Harris said, "We're anticipating a very busy flu season ... of course no one can predict how fast the H1N1 will spread when it kicks up this fall ... but we do anticipate and we are prepared."

The Centers for Disease Control expects the H1N1 vaccination to be ready sometime in October. Fresno State will give the vaccine at cost ... anywhere from 10 to 20 dollars. But despite the availability, Fresno State students don't often take advantage of flu shots. And many students go to class or elsewhere even when they're sick.

Abby Mettlach says she would. She said, "Probably ... depending upon whether I had a fever or not ... I would probably go ... which probably isn't the smartest ... but ... (shrugs)"

Because doctors don't really know how bad this flu season will be ... they're recommending all school age students five through 24 get a vaccine for H1N1 when it becomes available.

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