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H1N1 Swine Flu Vaccine FAQ

WebMD provides a practical guide to the H1N1 swine flu vaccine.

I've heard that something called squalene is in the vaccine. Is that true?

None None of the U.S. H1N1 swine flu or seasonal flu vaccines contains squalene.

Squalene isn't a very nice sounding word, but it's an oil that's a natural part of many body processes. It's widely used in cosmetics because it penetrates the skin easily without leaving an oily feel.

Squalene is also used in substances called adjuvants. When mixed with vaccines, adjuvants make vaccines work better at lower doses.

The U.S. purchased millions of doses of these adjuvants in case the H1N1 swine flu vaccine had to be boosted to be effective. That turned out not to be necessary. Unlike current H1N1 swine flu vaccines, a vaccine with adjuvant would have to be specifically approved by the FDA. Such vaccines could be used this year only under the FDA's Emergency Use Authorization. No such authorization has been issued.

However, adjuvants already are approved in Europe and other areas. They've been used safely in millions of people, although they may cause a bit more of a reaction at the site of injection that vaccines without adjuvant.

Vaccine makers likely will file for FDA approval of adjuvants, but this approval will be subject to rigorous safety analysis. In any case, no adjuvant will be used in any flu vaccine given in the U.S. this flu season.

How much will the H1N1 swine flu vaccine cost?

T The U.S. government purchased the vaccine from manufacturers and is providing the vaccine at no cost.

The CDC has asked providers NOT to charge for administering the vaccine. Even if they do, several large insurance companies have said the costs would be covered.

I've heard H1N1 swine flu shots are mandatory. Is that true?

Swine Swine flu shots are voluntary for most Americans. For those not in the military, there is no federal requirement to get the H1N1 swine flu vaccine.

Active-duty military personnel, National Guard troops on active duty, and civilian Defense Department employees in critical jobs will be required to get the vaccine.

Health care workers may be required by their employers to get vaccinated. The state of New York, for example, has mandated both seasonal and H1N1 swine flu vaccinations for all health care workers.

OK, you talk a good game. But would YOU get the swine flu vaccine yourself?

This This WebMD reporter was a guinea pig in the swine flu clinical trial. You can watch me get my first shot.

What happened? Nothing. There wasn't even soreness at the site of injection. I did catch a cold (sniffles, cough, no fever, no muscle aches) about three weeks after my first shot -- unfortunately, flu shots don't protect against that. But I haven't had the flu, even though I live in a city (Atlanta) that's had a lot of cases.

Reviewed on June 14, 2010

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