Countless of you (well actually, several of you) have asked me in the last few weeks “What about the swine flu vaccine?” “Should I get it?” “When will it be available?” “Is it safe?” “Does it not herald the coming of the zombie apocalypse?” Well, your long wait for answers is finally over.
So far the H1N1 infection has caused symptoms very similar to garden variety seasonal flu, except that diarrhea and vomiting have been more common and that most hospitalizations have been in people younger than 65. Remember, this is overall not a worse disease than the regular flu, though some groups have been particularly vulnerable.
Physicians will begin receiving shipments of the H1N1 vaccine later in October. The H1N1 vaccine is prepared the same way as the regular influenza vaccine, so it has the same side effects and is just as safe. Fortunately (despite conflicting reports a few months ago) one dose of the vaccine is sufficient.
The vaccine is recommended for the following five groups.
- Everyone 6 months through 24 years of age
- People who live with or care for infants younger than 6 months of age
- Pregnant women
- Healthcare workers
- People 25 years through 64 years of age with health conditions associated with high risk for medical complications from influenza
If you’re in one of the above groups, see your doctor later this months and get the vaccine. If you’re not, don’t. Our office expects to receive the vaccine in the next few weeks.