SPRINGHILL - With a third wave of the H1N1 virus imminent, one survivor is sending out a message to those who don't have their vaccination yet: roll up your sleeve.
Loretta St Peter contracted H1N1 in November and says it was an experience that almost cost her her life. An employee of Junction Road Elementary, St. Peter said she saw the second wave take its toll on students during the first week of November but never suspected a need for concern because she was vaccinated. A few days later, though, she was out of work and in quarantine.
"They told me I probably had it before I was inoculated," St Peter said. "Kids were dropping off and the doctor said they probably gave it to me.
"I had absolutely no energy. No sleep, fever. I hurt from top to bottom and it felt like I was breathing through a straw."
St Peter's condition worsened and contracted pneumonia, landing her in hospital for eight days in quarantine. It was just a few days before her release when she was officially diagnosed with H1N1.
St Peter says she's better but still doesn't fell 100 per cent since the ordeal. Being off work for three weeks did not help either but she's grateful she was the only one in her family who ended up with H1N1. The prospect of a third wave of H1N1, St Peter says, sets her on edge.
"I think everyone should have the needle. I feel it's the only thing I had to help fight. The only reason it didn't prevent the flu for me is that it takes two weeks to take affect," she said. "For my own peace of mind I felt better knowing I had it and my children have it."
Her message, Cumberland Health Authority communications officer Anne Keddy says, is one she hopes reaches at least half of Cumberland County's residents. Awaiting the final numbers reporting the statistics for the H1N1 immunization clinics held in November and December, Keddy says the projection is between 50 and 60 per cent of county residents got their immunization shot. The region fared much better than others during the second wave of the virus, but a third wave may not be as forgiving, meaning men in their mid twenties to thirties who didn't get the shot might want to reconsider.
"We saw children, and seniors are always willing to roll up their sleeves, but that age group is very hard to reach," Keddy said.
When the third wave begins, Keddy says, is up to speculation but previous pandemics have proven trouble comes in threes and the third can take between three to eight months to set in. Keddy confirmed there was a confirmed H1N1 infection before Christmas in the area.
There are no immunization clinics being offered right now, but Keddy reminds residents they can contact Public Health at 667-3319, or toll free at 1-800-767-3319, to sign up for the immunization, or their can receive the vaccine though their family doctor or nurse practitioner.
Organizations: Cumberland Health AuthorityTop of page