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Front Page » November 19, 2009 » Health Focus » H1N1, flu vaccine information
Published 2,149 days ago

H1N1, flu vaccine information

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With fears over the spread of H1N1, or "Swine Flu," many people have taken a increased concern over how they deal with the annual flu season.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), H1N1 is a new influenza virus causing illness in people.

This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. This virus is spreading from person-to-person worldwide, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread. On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) External Web Site Icon signaled that a pandemic of 2009 H1N1 flu was underway.

This information was obtained through the CDC and only includes a small percentage of what is available. Any one who wishes to find more information should visit for more and frequently updated information.

Swine Flu Name:

The name Swine Flu originated from laboratory testing showed that many of the genes in this new virus were very similar to influenza viruses that normally occur in pigs (swine) in North America.

But further study has shown that this new virus is very different from what normally circulates in North American pigs.

It has two genes from flu viruses that normally circulate in pigs in Europe and Asia and bird (avian) genes and human genes. Scientists call this a "quadruple reassortant" virus.


Regardless of its name and origin, many people feel a greater concern is the availability of the vaccine. The U.S. government has purchased 250 million doses of 2009 H1N1 vaccine, so anyone who wants to get the vaccine will have the opportunity to do so. Vaccine will be made available as quickly as possible as it rolls off the production lines, so initially, the vaccine will be available in limited quantities. Vaccination against 2009 H1N1 should begin as soon as vaccine is available and continue throughout the influenza season, into December, January, and beyond. No shortage of 2009 H1N1 vaccine is expected, but vaccine availability and demand can be unpredictable and initially the vaccine may be available in limited quantities.

Two types exist, one is an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The indications for who can get the 2009 H1N1 flu shot are the same as for seasonal flu shots. The flu shot is approved for use in people six months of age and older, including healthy people, people with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women. The same manufacturers who produce seasonal flu shots are producing 2009 H1N1 flu shots for use in the United States this season. The 2009 H1N1 flu shot is being made in the same way that the seasonal flu shot is made.

Also available a vaccine made with live, weakened viruses that do not cause the flu (sometimes called LAIV for "live attenuated influenza vaccine"). The indications for who can get the 2009 H1N1 nasal spray vaccine are the same as for seasonal nasal spray vaccine. LAIV is approved for use in healthy people two years to 49 years of age who are not pregnant. The nasal spray vaccine for use in the United States is being made by MedImmune, the same company that makes the seasonal nasal spray vaccine called "FluMist." The 2009 H1N1 nasal spray vaccine is being made in the same way as the seasonal nasal spray vaccine.

About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against 2009 H1N1 influenza virus infection will develop in the body.

The 2009 H1N1 vaccine will not protect against seasonal influenza viruses. However it is still reccomened that people get the standard seasonal flu shot since it has not lost its importance this season.

Vaccine priorities:

When the vaccine is first available, ACIP recommends that programs and providers administer vaccine to people in the following five target groups (order of target groups does not indicate priority):

Pregnant women, People who live with or provide care for infants younger than six months (e.g., parents, siblings, and day care providers),

Health care and emergency medical services personnel, People six months through 24 years-of-age (especially those with higher risk for influenza-related - - Complications like children younger than five years and those who have high risk medical conditions), and, people 25 years through 64 years-of-age who have certain medical conditions that put them at higher risk for influenza-related complications.

Pregnant women advisories:

The seasonal and 2009 H1N1 flu vaccines can be given by shot or by nasal spray. Pregnant women should get the "flu shot"-a vaccine made with killed flu virus. This one is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The other type of flu vaccine-a nasal spray-is not approved for pregnant women. This vaccine is made with live, weakened flu virus. Nasal spray flu vaccine should be used only in healthy people two to 49 years-of-age who are not pregnant. The nasal spray vaccine is safe for women after they have delivered, even if they are nursing.

The side effects from 2009 H1N1 flu shots are expected to be like those from seasonal flu shots. The most common side effects after flu shots are mild, such as being sore and tender and/or red and swollen where the shot was given.

Some people might have headache, muscle aches, fever, and nausea or feel tired. If these problems happen, they usually begin soon after the shot and may last as long as one to two days. Some people may faint after getting any shot. Sometimes, flu shots can cause serious problems like severe allergic reactions. But, life-threatening allergic reactions to vaccines are very rare. A person who has a severe (life-threatening) allergy to eggs or to anything else in the vaccine should not get the shot, even if she is pregnant. Pregnant women should tell the person giving the shots if they have any severe allergies or if they have ever had a severe allergic reaction following a flu shot.


A number of flu tests are available to detect influenza viruses. The most common are called "rapid influenza diagnostic tests" that can be used in outpatient settings. These tests can provide results in 30 minutes or less. Unfortunately, the ability of these tests to detect the flu can vary greatly. Therefore, you could still have the flu, even though your rapid test result is negative. Several more accurate and sensitive flu tests available that must be performed in specialized laboratories, such as those found in hospitals or state public health laboratories. All of these tests are performed by a health care provider using a swab to swipe the inside of your nose or the back of your throat. These tests do not require a blood sample. You may have the flu if you have one or more of these symptoms: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and sometimes, diarrhea and vomiting. Most people with 2009 H1N1 have had mild illness and have not needed medical care or antiviral drugs, Most people with flu symptoms do not need a test for 2009 H1N1 because the test results usually do not change treatment.

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