- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Should I Get the Swine Flu Vaccine?
About the Swine Flu Vaccine
With cases of swine flu expected to rise in the coming months, a lot of people are wondering, should I get the swine flu vaccine? This article will cover the basics of the swine flu vaccine: when it will be available, where to get it, who should get it, and what side effects it may cause.
When will the swine flu vaccine be available?
Flu vaccines for 2010-11 should start being available in early fall.
Is the swine flu vaccine different from the regular flu vaccine?
Not anymore: The 2010-11 seasonal flu vaccine will protect against 3 strains of the flu, including swine flu.
Where can I get the flu vaccine?
Call your doctor or local health center to find out when the vaccine will be available in your area. Many pharmacies will host flu vaccination clinics during the fall and winter months.
Who should get the swine flu vaccine?
Whether to get vaccinated or not is an individual decision. Most swine flu cases that we've seen in the US seem to be rather mild, though they do cause the discomfort associated with regular seasonal flu: fever, tiredness, headache, sore throat, aching, and possible stomach upset.
Flu causes a certain number of deaths each year, mostly among high risks groups. The swine flu has NOT caused a higher percentage of deaths than the regular flu. However, getting the swine flu vaccine is a very good idea if you are in a high risk group. This includes people with chronic lung/heart/kidney/liver/neurological disease, anyone with a disease that suppresses the immune system, anyone with diabetes mellitus, anyone who receives drug treatment for asthma, pregnant women, people over 65, and children under 5. (From the NHS)
For more information about the flu vaccine and complete CDC recommendations visit flu.gov
Swine Flu Vaccine Side Effects
A lot of people who are thinking about getting the swine flu vaccine are concerned about side effects. At this point, researchers are expecting about the same mild side effects that are possible with the seasonal flu vaccine: usually just soreness at the injection site and possibly a headache. Of the people that have received the vaccine so far (39,000 in China), only very few reported side effects and they were generally mild.
Nevertheless, we won't really know what the exact effects will be until more people get vaccinated. The US is coordinating several tracking efforts to monitor if any serious side effects occur.
The main horror story involves the relationship between flu vaccines and a rare nerve disease called Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which is a type of paralysis that can be fatal. There is speculation that a large-scale a swine flu vaccine effort in 1976 led to 500 cases of Guillan-Barre among 45 million vaccinated, but the truth is that there is no concrete evidence linking the two. For the seasonal flu shot, the risk of Guillan-Barre is about 1 out of 1 million vaccinations.
Is the swine flu vaccine safe?
The swine flu vaccine is made the same way as the regular flu vaccine. In fact, the swine flu vaccine was made by slightly altering a previous seasonal flu vaccine -- it is not a brand new vaccine, but rather a vaccine for a different strain of flu. The swine flu vaccine is approved by the FDA and the CDC is continuing to conduct trials to make sure that it is safe in both the short and long term.