What you need to know about swine flu

Unlike seasonal flu, the H1N1 flu strain attacks the young, experts say.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that children 6 months old and older be a priority to receive the H1N1 vaccination. Pregnant women and those caring for infants less than 6 months old are also a priority. Pregnant moms are four times more likely to be hospitalized with an unusually high death rate, according to Dr. Seema Venkatachalam of Northwestern Specialists for Women and clinical instructor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

Pregnant moms should call their doctor immediately if they have a fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue and possibly diarrhea and vomiting, she says. Moms who are nursing should continue breastfeeding, but should take extra precautions and wear a mask when in close contact with baby, she says.

Melaney Arnold, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Health, says the agency is encouraging parents to vaccinate children for both the H1N1 virus and the regular seasonal flu. That may mean children receive three shots: two for H1N1 and one for seasonal flu.

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