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H1N1 Swine Flu Vaccine FAQ

WebMD provides a practical guide to the H1N1 swine flu vaccine.
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Who should get the H1N1 swine flu vaccine? continued...

But certain groups are at particularly high risk of dangerous flu complications:

  • Children under age 5, especially those younger than 2 years old.
  • Adults age 65 and older
  • Pregnant women

In addition, certain medical conditions make it dangerous for a person to get the flu:

  • Asthma
  • Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders), stroke, intellectual disability (mental retardation), moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury  
  • Chronic lung disease (such as COPD and cystic fibrosis)
  • Heart disease
  • Blood disorders (for example, sickle cell disease)
  • Diabetes and other endocrine disorders
  • Kidney disorders
  • Liver disorders
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Weakened immune system due to disease or immune-suppressing therapy
  • People under age 19 on long-term aspirin therapy

If I think I've had swine flu, do I need the vaccine?

Even Even during a flu pandemic, colds and all kinds of flu-like illnesses circulate. In fact, most flu-like illnesses are NOT caused by the flu.

If you came down with a flu-like illness since April 2009, you may have had the H1N1 swine flu. But the only way to know for sure is if your doctor took a nasal or throat swab, sent it off to a lab, and had that lab confirm the infection.

If that didn't happen, it's not safe to assume you already had the flu. Especially if you're at risk of severe flu illness, it's a very good idea to get your H1N1 swine flu shot AND your seasonal flu shot. The vaccine is perfectly safe for people who actually had swine flu.

What's the difference between the nasal spray and injectable vaccines?

The The traditional flu shot contains proteins separated from the flu virus. Those proteins can't cause illness. But your immune system learns to recognize them and mounts a protective reaction if a real live flu virus tries to infect you.

The FluMist nasal spray works differently. It contains a live flu virus that has been weakened to the point that it can't cause the flu. That sounds pretty scary, but millions of people have safely taken this kind of vaccine.

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