What’s H1N1 doing right now?
The flu virus has been circulating in the southern hemisphere, which is winding down its winter flu season. The good news is that it hasn’t mutated. In the U.S., we can expect to see H1N1 cases along with the regular seasonal flu.
Is there a vaccine?
This year, people ages 6 months or older will be able to get an H1N1 vaccine in addition to the regular seasonal flu vaccine. The H1N1 vaccine has gone through trials to determine safety and appropriate dosage. The testing process involves administering the vaccine, waiting 3 weeks, then taking a blood sample to measure antibodies to see if the dosage of vaccine was adequate.
You will probably need 2 doses of H1N1 vaccine for it to be effective. The H1N1 vaccine will have multiple formulations, as does the seasonal flu vaccine:
• 10-dose vial (which contains thimerosol)
• Single-dose vials (thimerosol-free)
• Preloaded syringes (thimerosol-free)
Some people are saying the H1N1 vaccine was developed too quickly. Is that true?
People who are concerned that the H1N1 vaccine was developed too quickly can take comfort in knowing the H1N1 vaccine preparation process is the same as it is for the seasonal flu vaccine and it is made by the same manufacturers. So far, any reactions in the trials for H1N1 vaccine have been the same as for the regular seasonal flu vaccine (soreness, redness). Any serious events that might occur may not appear during the vaccine trial time period because they are so rare.
Who should get the H1N1 vaccine?
People who should get the H1N1 vaccine are:
• Pregnant women
• Household contacts and caregivers for babies 0-6 months
• Healthcare and emergency medical services personnel
• People ages 6 months through 24 years
• People ages 25-64 years of age who have health conditions putting them at higher risk of complications from influenza
As with the seasonal flu vaccine, people with egg allergies cannot get the H1N1 vaccine. Check with your provider to see if immunization is right for you and your family.