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Swine Flu: H1N1 Flu Vaccine – Who Should Get It, Who Shouldn’t Get It and Is It Safe?

Posted Sep 28 2009 10:35pm

By Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA

maze In April I co-authored, Swine Flu Vs. Soap:  Our bet’s on the soap! with pediatrician, Dr. Gwenn O’Keefe, founder of Pediatricsnow.  We gave a brief overview about the swine flu H1N1 and discussed preventative measures.

While the information remains the same in our post, I’d like to now add a little info about the the H1N1 flu vaccine.

Health information about H1N1 is circulating the web faster than tweets zip through cyberspace and it can be very confusing.

It’s like you’re stuck in a maze and you don’t know which way to go to get out.  Information about the swine flu is circulating so quickly that it can even be frightening.  It’s really important that you don’t panic.

Gather your information and talk with you doctors and nurses.

Information about the H1N1 flu vaccine

Many people are wondering about the H1N1 vaccine.  They are wondering if they need to get the H1N1 vaccine, and if there are any side effects.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers very helpful information, and here are the recommendations from the CDC for the group of people who should get the H1N1 vaccine and those who shouldn’t.

Who should get the H1N1 flu vaccine

  • Pregnant women
  • Household contacts and caregivers for children younger than 6 months of age
  • Healthcare and emergency medical services personnel
  • All people from 6 months through 24 years of age
  • Persons aged 25 through 64 years who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza.

While a shortage of the H1N1 vaccine isn’t expected, availability and demand can be unpredictable.  So here’s the CDC recommendation for who gets the H1N1 vaccine first.

Who Gets the H1N1 Vaccine First

  • pregnant women
  • people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age
  • health care and emergency medical services personnel with direct patient contact
  • children 6 months through 4 years of age
  • children 5 through 18 years of age who have chronic medical conditions

People who should NOT receive the vaccine the H1N1 flu vaccine

People who have a severe (life-threatening) allergy to chicken eggs or to any other substance in the vaccine should not be vaccinated.

H1N1 Flu Vaccine Safety – Is the H1N1 flu vaccine safe?

The CDC expects that the H1N1 flu vaccine’s safety will be comparable to the seasonal flu vaccine.

What are the side effects from the H1N1 flu vaccine?

According to the CDC the side effects following the flu vaccine are mild and they include soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling where the shot was given, fainting (mainly adolescents), headache, muscle aches, fever, and nausea.

If any of these side effects occur, they usually occur right after the shot was given and last 1-2 days.

It is rare that there are any life-threatening allergic reactions to vaccine, but if they do occur, it is usually within a few minutes to a few hours after the shot is given.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be closely monitoring for any signs that the vaccine is causing unexpected adverse events and we will work with state and local health officials to investigate any unusual events.”

After you receive the H1N1 flu vaccine – important information

“After vaccination you should look for any unusual condition, such as a high fever or behavior changes. Signs of a serious allergic reaction can include difficulty breathing, hoarseness or wheezing, swelling around the eyes or lips, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heart beat or dizziness. If any unusual condition occurs following vaccination, seek medical attention right away. Tell your doctor what happened, the date and time it happened, and when the vaccination was given. Ask your doctor, nurse, or health department to report the reaction by filing a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) form. Or you can file this report yourself through the VAERS Web site at You may call 1-800-822-7967 to receive a copy of the VAERS form. VAERS is not able to provide medical advice.”

[The novel H1N1 vaccine is not intended to replace the seasonal flu vaccine. It is intended to be used alongside seasonal flu vaccine to protect people.  Seasonal flu and novel H1N1 vaccines may be administered on the same day].

For more info talk to your doctors and nurses and for further information from the CDC, you can check their website.

Your turn

I’m wondering what you think about the H1N1 flu vaccine.  Once it’s available will you be getting it?  Did this post help you?

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