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Questions, with answers, about H1N1 (swine flu)

November 3, 2009 | 11:19 am

H1n1Who should get the H1N1 vaccine?

Pretty much everyone, health officials say, assuming a person hasn't already had the H1N1 flu. But don’t go elbowing to the front of the line just yet. With limited vaccine supplies available, some groups get priority because the virus poses greater risk to them than it does to most healthy adults. So if you’re not pregnant, a healthcare worker, age 6 months to 24 years, live with or care for an infant under 6 months, or have a compromised immune system, hold off.  As difficult as it may be, you need to wait until there’s enough vaccine available for all.

I’m at high risk – honest, I am. Where can I get the vaccine?

Go to your county health department’s website for a list of clinics and dates. In Los Angeles County, that’s

Is the vaccine safe?

It would certainly seem to be. As one infectious disease specialist put it recently: "This H1N1 vaccine is made just like all the flu vaccines we have been making for 60 years, which have an extraordinary record for safety."

See Scientists aim to dispel fears on H1N1 flu vaccine

Why are young people more likely to be affected?

The short answer is, no one is sure. Some scientists blame a lack of exposure to similar strains of the flu; some suggest young people's immune responses go into overdrive. Regardless, a better understanding of this flu will be crucial to developing ways to fight it in the future. Here's a closer look at the mysteries of this flu strain.

See Swine flu virus causing confusion

Are pregnant women really more at risk?

Yes, yes, yes. Many of them are young, so they're more likely to be affected. And their immune systems are operating at lower capacity than usual so their bodies don't reject the fetus.

See H1N1 vaccine a tough sell to pregnant women

Should I get a seasonal flu vaccine?

Again, health experts recommend it for most people. They say that, just because the swine flu strain is the predominant -- by far -- strain in the community at the moment, that could change as we approach traditional flu season.

See Flu shot isn't for H1N1

What's so special about the swine flu?

Many things, not the least of which is its refusal to follow the standard cold-weather transmission patterns. The virus made a splash in the late spring, at the end of the traditional flu season, lingered through the summer and resurged well before the start of flu season in the winter. It's also easily spread. Very easily spread, affects young people more than old, and is a previously unseen combination of viruses found in pigs, humans and wild birds. Interesting, no?  

See How the new virus came to be.

How do I know if I have the flu?

If you have a fever, chills, head and chest congestion, assume that you do.  If you simply feel a little peaked or have the sniffles, assume that you don’t.

How do I know which flu I have?

If you have the flu, you can pretty much bet it's the novel H1N1 strain. Don’t be fooled by the limited number of “confirmed” flu cases in your school or office. Health officials aren’t even bothering to test in most suspected flu cases because, right now, that virus is pretty much the only game in town.

Have more questions?

Head to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You could spend days there, exploring and learning about the H1N1 strain. And the news is always changing, so stay tuned here too.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: The pandemic H1N1 strain of influenza virus.

Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Comments (13)

Here's a question. Have any reports been published that show people that have had vaccines have better health than those that don't? You won't find any because how can your health be improved by injecting mercury, formaldehyde, and dead animal cancer cells? Research this people. We're not all stupid.

YOU SEE! Read the end of the article where it says that if you get the flu right now you can bet its probably swine flu! No babysitting for u for a week.

From the FDA Webiste: The vaccine may contain mercury.

Consider what happened the last time the US tried mass innoculation against the swine flu in 1976 - more people died from the vaccine then the actual flu. Watch the commericals back then advocating a swine flu vaccine. They are pretty lame, but we're just seeing slicker versions of the same thing today. Don't be fooled by the propaganda.

From the fda website.........
Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Limited
Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccine is a homogenized, sterile, slightly opalescent suspension in a phosphate buffered saline. Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccine is formulated to contain 15 mcg hemagglutinin (HA) per 0.5-mL dose of the following virus strain: A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)v-like virus.

The 0.5-mL prefilled syringe presentation is formulated without preservative. Thimerosal, a mercury derivative used during manufacturing, is removed by subsequent purification steps to a trace amount (≤ 1 mcg mercury per 0.5-mL dose).


Each dose from the multidose vial or from the prefilled syringe may also contain residual amounts of egg proteins (≤ 1 mcg ovalbumin), polymyxin (≤ 3.75 mcg), neomycin (≤ 2.5 mcg), betapropiolactone (not more than 0.5 mcg) and nonylphenol ethoxylate (not more than 0.015% w/v).

The multidose vial stopper and the syringe stopper/plunger do not contain latex.

There's more mercury in one can of tuna than there is in a flu shot.
Betcha didn't know that!

The real downside to the swine flu is the possibility that the vaccine has effects that are not yet known. Recall that some of the first polio vaccines were contaminated with SV40, a virus with characteristics similar to oncogenes. Also, no one is talking about virus attenuation as H1N1 passes through the population.

I really can't believe the people who think this shot is evil. I wonder if these are the same people who use the word "toxins" they way doctors of yore refered to the bad humors.

It's a lot of my friends and relatives who think this way, so I wrote a piece on my own blog, trying to show them some of my reasoning. Of course, since writing it, I've since contracted the flu, just a week before my scheduled vaccination. Bummer. Looks like I have to ride this one out the old fashioned way.

"So if you’re not pregnant, a healthcare worker, age 6 months to 24 years, live with or care for an infant under 6 months, or have a compromised immune system, hold off."

You seem to have forgotten one group - the group most likely to die from H1N1. According to the CDC, 64% of H1N1 deaths are occurring in the 25 to 64 age group, and 12 % of deaths are in people age 65 and older. Yes, 75% of the deaths occur in those over 25 and 70% of them had a health condition that put them at risk. So where are these people on the priority list? Second to the last! Just ahead of adults over 25 with no pre-existing conditions.

Children and young adults up to age 24 with NO health problems are getting the vaccine ahead of adults most at risk of dying. Where is the logic in this? The decision of who gets the vaccine first should be based on risk assessment, not emotionalism. People of ANY age who have health conditions that put them at risk should be vaccinated before people of ANY age who don't (other than those under age 5, who are at risk simply because of their young age). Pregnant woman, of course, are at risk because of their condition and should be high on the list.

Suggested reading:

Thank you Sue.
According to the recent JAMA study (Nov 4,2009), reported between April 23 and August 11. 2009, the highest mortality rates in California for those hospitalized with H1N1 were in persons aged 50 and OLDER. The most common causes of death were viral pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome.
This MAY be a mild flu ,but for older people without the vaccine and with chronic health conditions this flu is very serious indeed. So, yes, ANYONE,with chronic medical conditions, regardlessof age ,should have been at the head of the line. Now that clinics are shutting down & no new ones are opening up yet, the elderly are being left in a vulnerable state. The government regulations were not well thought out in the first place; of course they will not own up to this. Likewise, the doctors who didn't bother to order the vaccine months ago can share in this debacle. (My own primary physician said that I MUST get the vaccine, but she did not order any! )

My God so many uniformed people here.
I have gotten the flu shot for the past 10 years.
I used to have asthma. I don't have it anymore. It is because of the
flu shot. My son also got the flu shot every year. His asthma is almost gone.
He takes no controller meds and only ventolin puff before hockey (cold air).
He just had what was likely the swine flu and he and I just got the shot. He got the shot on day six after he likely had swine and I had it the third day he had the flu. I never got the flu from him.
We're both are fine.
In canada we get a better dose than americans. We get the adjuvant which
makes the vaccine more effective. The biggest thing we both had are sore arms which we never got with regular shot becuase the adjuvant stimulates your immune system better and therefore offers a better rate of immunity.
It offers a 90 percent rate of full protection.

Senior Merck Scientist Admits Cancer & AIDS Came From Vaccines

I got the flu and 3 weeks later, I have a upper respiratory infection. My stomach is still unhappy with food so the antibiotic is a nightmare. I'm 48 and have a history of allergies. This flu can easily spread to your lungs, so be on the lookout if you fall in the so called not at risk group.

This is all HYPE. You couldn't pay me thousands of dollars to get "vaccinated".

Do a search on "burgermeister sues world health organization"

Propaganda? Huh, WHO changed the definition of a pandemic not to require a death total. So basically they can demand a country to "vaccinate" at their whim. They run the propaganda.

Believe what you all want. I'm boycotting anything made by Baxter Pharmaceuticals.

well how can we be sure that the vaccine won't hurt us at all??If so i am an example of the flu that i have not vaccinated myself with anything against the flua and have yet and will not get affected with it.


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