Podcast Beyond Belief, our new freethought parenting podcast, features a segment called “The FAQ”, where we answer your science-based questions via qualified experts. Dr. Harriet Hall was kind enough to answer Laurie Tarr’s curious queries about late season flu vaccine…
Back in the fall, people stood in long lines to get H1N1 flu shots, and serum was in short supply. Now it is late February, and serum is readily available, but flu season only lasts until April. If you still haven’t been immunized, is it important to get an H1N1 flu shot now? What about a seasonal flu shot? Is it “too late”?
It’s not too late to get either the H1N1 or the seasonal shots. Flu is still active and the season is far from over. Three more children died of flu last week in the US: two of these deaths were associated with laboratory confirmed 2009 H1N1, and one death was associated with an influenza A virus for which the subtype was undetermined.
If your child comes down with the flu, should the rest of the family hurry to get immunized if they aren’t already, or will the shot not “kick in” until weeks later?
“It’s still useful to get vaccinated after being exposed to the flu, as you might not catch it that time. Depending on how soon after the exposure, receiving the flu shot can lessen the symptoms a little bit.” http://www.childrenshospital.org/newsroom/Site1339/mainpageS1339P351sublevel466.html
If you have had the flu already this season, should you still consider getting the vaccines?
If you’ve already had the flu you’ve only had one type of flu and are still susceptible to other strains. And you probably don’t know for sure which strain you had, so it makes sense to consider getting both shots.
What is on the horizon for next flu season? Will H1N1 continue to be such a threat? Can they combine the vaccines in to one shot?
There is no way to predict what will happen in the next flu season. There should be only one shot next year. Every year the experts try to develop a seasonal flu shot with the strains they think are most likely to spread. This year the H1N1 outbreak occurred too late to incorporate it into the seasonal mixture. If it had shown up in Mexico a couple of months earlier, it would have made it into the regular vaccine and there would have been only one shot.
Thanks to Dr. Harriet Hall for taking the time to share her expertise!