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David Fisher, MD, MPH: The 411 on H1N1

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

The 411 on H1N1

Here it is: the breakdown you've been looking for on the flu vaccines.
Who should receive them?

First- the regular seasonal flu vaccine, available now.
You should get the flu vaccine this year.
The only people who should not are infants less than 6 months, people with an egg allergy, and people with a previous reaction to the flu vaccine.

Next- the H1N1 vaccine, available in the next few weeks.
The following groups of people should get this vaccine:
Pregnant women
Children age 6 months to 18 years
Caregivers for children this age
Young adults 18-24
Health care workers
People age 25-64 with a chronic medical condition
(Examples include diabetes, asthma, COPD, and autoimmune conditions)

People age 65 and older are at lower risk for H1N1, so they are not recommended for the vaccine until the higher priority groups are inoculated.  Sometime in December or January, people age 65 and older may be recommended to receive the H1N1 vaccine.

The H1N1 vaccine will be available as a nasal spray and as a shot.  Pregnant women cannot receive the nasal spray because it contains a live virus.  It is safe for everyone else except those with a compromised immune system (as in HIV).  Children under 10 will require 2 doses about 4 weeks apart.  Everyone else will need only one dose.


VWang said...

Thanks for the info! Should children that have had a reaction to previous flu shots (and whom have a slight egg allergy) still get the H1N1 vaccine? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Will the vaccine be available at every doctor's office around the country immediately in October?

David Fisher, MD, MPH said...

The H1N1 vaccine is also made using eggs, so I would not give it to your children if they had a previous reaction. Looks like you are in for lots of handwashing this winter.

Anonymous, the vaccine won't be available on a mass scale until probably early November, possibly late October.

Stephanie said...

If someone is getting both the regular flu vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine, how do those need to be spaced out from one another?

And what is the recommended window of time for getting the regular flu shot?

David Fisher, MD, MPH said...

The regular flu and H1N1 shots can be given simultaneously- no need to space them out as long as they are given in different arms.

The regular flu shot can be given anytime- no need to wait. I would go ahead and get the flu shot now if you have access.

Jody B said...

Dr. Fisher,
I am on the fence about vaccinating my two girls, ages 6 months and 3 years...have been gathering information the last few days.
About the egg allergy, how would I know whether or not my 6 month old is allergic to eggs? Our pediatrician said she can not eat eggs until she is a year old. Your thoughts?

David Fisher, MD, MPH said...

Great question. Unfortunately there is no way to know for sure if your baby has an egg allergy. Egg allergies are not common, and if there is an egg allergy there would likely be a mild reaction like a rash. None of this is without risk which is what makes it so difficult. I am vaccinating my children because I believe their risk of getting H1N1 and having a serious infection is higher than their risk of having a reaction to the vaccine. They will likely be exposed to H1N1 this season, so one way or another, their bodies will make antibodies to it, and I would rather they make their antibodies ahead of time through a vaccine, then wait until they are also fighting the illness itself and feeling sick.

Jody B said...

Thank you, Dr. Fisher. After reading up most of the night, I am leaning toward having my children vaccinated. My doctor is not giving the vaccine, and many of the doctors we've spoken to are not giving it. This concerns me. Is this vaccine really any different than the changing seasonal flu vaccine that is given every year (as far as safety goes)?

Anonymous said...

Does it concern you that big-pharma get a total pass on liability for the H1N1 flu shot?

----------JC Ryle