Friday, October 23, 2009

H1N1, seasonal FLU and YOU!

Every day I see and get calls from patients that have questions about influenza, H1N1 as well as the vaccine.

Do you have both vaccines?
I want the flu but is the H1N1 safe?
Do you do testing for the flu?
A family member has cancer on chemo, can we get the nasal vaccination?
Are people really dying from the flu?

In terms of supply, this has been rather confusing. We pre-booked with our distributor for 100 doses. A couple of weeks ago the distributor told us that we will only be getting 10 total doses. They couldn't tell us whether or not we would get the rest of our doses anytime during the season. Early in the season we did enroll through the CDC to get H1N1 vaccine and ordered 200 doses. At this point we still don't know when they will be shipped. They said we will get an email stating it has shipped and doses should arrive shortly there-after. Obviously, the larger providers who purchase in the hundreds of thousands of doses will get priority over someone like me who orders only 100 or 200. At this time, the CDC is not reporting a shortage of vaccines. I believe, the seasonal flu vaccine production has been slowed or halted and now they are working on H1N1 production. Either way we have distributed our 10 doses to patients on a list and I myself went to Wal-mart to get my vaccination.

H1N1 vaccine safety. H1N1 is no more dangerous than the seasonal flu vaccine. Yes, in the past there have been problems with a rare neurological disease like Guillane-Barre and those patients allergic to eggs associated with vaccination. If you have ever had the seasonal flu vaccine, H1N1 is no different except for the viral particle used to provide the immunity. It's like playing music on a CD player. Every CD you listen to works the same way in your CD player, but if you change the CD you hear a different song. Every year the CDC is guessing at what strain of the viruses will be most prevalent in the upcoming season and they change the CD and make a different vaccine. The most common side effects are muscle soreness and redness at the injection site. Remember, there are risks to everything in life and you must weigh the risks against the benefits and for certain populations it's a "no brainer" being vaccinated. Key people who should get vaccinated are the following: Pregnant women, those who live with a child <6months old.

Dynamed free influenza information.

Bryan Glick, DO