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H1N1 flu (swine flu)

Facts and FAQs on H1N1 flu shots and seasonal flu shots

This page talks about seasonal flu shots and H1N1 flu shots (also called swine flu shots, swine flu vaccines, or H1N1 flu vaccines).


What does my flu shot include

The seasonal flu shot protects you against the three most common strains of flu most likely to be seen in Canada. For the 2010-2011 flu season H1N1 will be included in the shot. To find out more information visit the Public Health Agency of Canada.


The Lung Association urges people to get the H1N1 flu shot and seasonal flu shot as soon as possible. There are a few groups of people who should not get the H1N1 flu shot- they are listed below.

Along with doctors from the Public Health Agency of Canada, we give these specific recommendations for different groups:

All babies under 6 months old

Babies under 6 months are too young to get the H1N1 flu shot or the seasonal flu shot.

To help protect these babies, parents and caregivers should get the H1N1 and seasonal flu shots. Parents and caregivers whoíve had their shots are less likely to pass flu germs on to their babies.

To help protect babies from flu, keep them away from sick people and take steps to fight germs.

All kids 6 months to 5 years old

H1N1 flu shot: Get the H1N1 flu shot Ė kids under 5 are a high-risk group and you need to protect them.

All kids 6 months-3 years old need two half-doses of the H1N1 flu shot, given at least 21 days apart.

Kids 3 - 9 years who do not have asthma or another flu risk factor need just one half-dose H1N1 flu shot.

Kids 3 - 9 years who have asthma or another flu risk factor need two half-dose H1N1 flu shots, given at least 21 days apart.

People 10 and older need one full-dose H1N1 flu shot.

Seasonal flu shot: Get the seasonal flu shot. Kids six months to 23 months need two half doses of the seasonal flu shot. Kids 2 - 9 years of age who are getting the seasonal flu shot for the first time should also get two half doses, given at least 21 days apart.

People 5 years to 64 years old

This advice is for people who do not have a long-term disease or something else that puts them at high risk for flu complications.

H1N1 flu shot: Get the H1N1 flu shot. Kids 3 - 10 years who do not have a long-term disease or a flu risk factor only need one half-dose of the H1N1 flu shot. People over 10 need one full dose of the H1N1 flu shot.

Seasonal flu shot: Get the seasonal flu shot. Kids 2 - 9 years of age who are getting the seasonal flu shot for the first time should also get two half doses, given at least 21 days apart.

People 5 years to 64 years old with asthma, COPD, or another condition that puts them at high risk

If you have asthma, COPD (emphysema or chronic bronchitis), or another long-term disease, you are at higher risk for getting seriously sick from H1N1 flu. See the full list of people at high risk for serious sickness from H1N1 flu.

H1N1 flu shot: Get the H1N1 flu shot as soon as possible: you are at higher risk. Children under 10 who have a long-term disease like asthma or another flu risk factor need to get two half-dose H1N1 flu shots, at least 21 days apart. People 10 and older need just one full-dose H1N1 flu shot.

Seasonal flu shot: Get the seasonal flu shot as soon as possible: you are at higher risk. Kids 2- 9 years who are getting the seasonal flu shot for the first time should get two half-doses at least 21 days apart.

People age 65 and older

This advice is for people who are not in a high-risk group.

H1N1 flu shot: Think about getting the H1N1 flu shot.

People 65 and older seem to have some natural immunity to H1N1 flu- they are less likely to get H1N1 flu than people under 65. But itís a smart choice to get the H1N1 flu shot anyway, especially if you spend time with people who are at risk of flu complications (babies, kids, pregnant women, people with asthma, COPD, heart disease, diabetes). If you get the H1N1 flu shot, youíll be less likely to pass along the H1N1 flu germs to people around you.

Seasonal flu shot: Get the seasonal flu shot as soon as possible; you are at higher risk for seasonal flu.

People age 65 and older with asthma, COPD, or another condition that puts them at high risk

If you have asthma, COPD (emphysema or chronic bronchitis), diabetes, heart disease, or another long-term disease, you are at higher risk for getting seriously sick from H1N1 flu. See the full list of people at high risk for serious sickness from H1N1 flu.

H1N1 flu shot: Get the H1N1 flu shot.

Seasonal flu shot: Get the seasonal flu shot; you are at higher risk for seasonal flu.

People who think they may have already been sick with the H1N1 flu

Maybe youíve had flu symptoms in the past few months, and you wonder if you already had H1N1 flu. You canít be sure your symptoms were caused by H1N1 flu unless a doctor tested you and confirmed your case was definitely H1N1 flu. Many different viruses can give you symptoms similar to H1N1 flu symptoms, including other kinds of flu or a common virus called respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

H1N1 flu shot: If youíre not completely sure your flu symptoms were from H1N1 flu--if you donít have a lab-confirmed case--get the H1N1 flu shot. If you definitely had a lab-confirmed case of H1N1 flu, you donít need the H1N1 flu shot.

Thereís no harm in getting the H1N1 flu shot even if you already had H1N1 flu sickness.

Seasonal flu shot: Get the seasonal flu shot.

Women who are less than 20 weeks pregnant

H1N1 flu shot: Get an unadjuvanted H1N1 flu shot as soon as itís available. Until you can get the unadjuvanted shot, take extra steps to avoid germs and stay healthy. Ask the people you live with to get their H1N1 and seasonal flu shots.

Seasonal flu shot: Get your seasonal flu shot. Seasonal flu shots protect women, fetuses, and babies. Women who do get the seasonal flu shot while pregnant are less likely to deliver prematurely, and their babies are less likely to have low birthweight or need hospital treatment for flu in the first 6 months of life.1.

Women who are more than 20 weeks pregnant

H1N1 flu shot: Get an unadjuvanted H1N1 flu shot as soon as itís available; you are at higher risk of serious illness from H1N1 flu.

BUT if you live in a place with many cases of H1N1 flu, or if H1N1 flu cases are rising in your area, donít wait for the unadjuvanted H1N1 flu shot. Take the adjuvanted H1N1 flu shot right now. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists1 and other leading health organizations say that the adjuvanted H1N1 flu shot is safe for pregnant women and their foetuses. They say the unadjuvanted vaccine is also safe.

Pregnant women are 4-6 times more likely to get seriously sick from H1N1 than other women. Thatís why you should protect yourself and your baby by getting your flu shots.

Seasonal flu shot: Get your seasonal flu shot. Ask the people you live with to get their H1N1 and seasonal flu shots.

FAQs on H1N1 flu shots and seasonal flu shots

Are there some people who should NOT get the H1N1 flu shot?
Yes. These groups should not get the H1N1 flu shot:

  • people who have had a previous anaphylactic (severe allergic reaction) to any ingredient in the vaccine, OR
  • people with a hypersensitivity to eggs ( e.g. hives, swelling of mouth or throat, breathing difficulty); OR
  • people experiencing a high fever, OR
  • people who have previously experienced Guillan-Barré Syndrome within 8 weeks of receiving a seasonal flu vaccine.

Can I get the seasonal flu shot at the same time as the H1N1 flu shot?
Yes, you can get both shots at the same time. Theyíll give the H1N1 flu shot in one arm and the seasonal flu shot in the other arm.

I already had H1N1 flu. Do I still need to get the H1N1 flu shot?
Unless a doctor tested you and confirmed with a lab test that you did for sure have H1N1 flu, you should get the H1N1 flu shot. You should also get the regular seasonal flu shot.

I already had seasonal flu this year. Do I still need to get the seasonal flu shot?
Yes. The seasonal flu shot protects you from three common types of flu. Even if youíve already had one of these kinds of flu, you still need the seasonal flu shot to protect you from the other two kinds. You also need the H1N1 flu shot.

Whatís the difference between an adjuvated and an unadjuvated shot?
Adjuvanted shots have an extra ingredient added to them, called an adjuvant. The adjuvant is made of natural components, like vitamin E and water. The adjuvant helps the shot work better and protects you more fully from the flu. So the adjuvanted flu shot is more effective than the unadjuvanted shot. The adjuvanted flu shot is also likely to give you protection if the flu virus changes (mutates) over time.

Unadjuvented shots donít have this extra ingredient (adjuvant). They donít protect you from the flu quite as well as the adjuvanted shots.

How effective is the H1N1 flu shot?
The H1N1 flu shot is effective in preventing H1N1 flu. The Public Health Agency of Canada says that:

  • the adjuvanted H1N1 flu shot gives immunity in up to 90% of people who get it. In other words, 9 out of 10 people who get the H1N1 shot are protected from getting H1N1 flu.
  • the unadjuvanted H1N1 flu shot may give immunity in 60% of people who get it. In other words, 6 out of 10 people who get the H1N1 shot are protected from getting H1N1 flu.

How long does it take for the H1N1 flu shot to take effect and prevent H1N1 flu?
It usually takes 10 days for the H1N1 flu shot to start protecting you from H1N1 flu.

Are flu shots safe?
Yes. The H1N1 flu shot and seasonal flu shots have been well-researched and are safe. Read more about flu shot safety and testing from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Can the seasonal or H1N1 flu shot give me the flu?
No, absolutely not. The H1N1 and seasonal flu shots contain only bits of chopped up, inactivated flu virus. They cannot cause the flu.

Where to get your H1N1 flu shot and seasonal flu shot

H1N1 flu shots are being given to people in priority order. People in high risk groups are allowed to get the H1N1 flu shot first. Later, officals will let everyone else get the shot.

To learn where to get your H1N1 flu shot, and who is allowed to get shots right now, click on your province or territory:
Learn more about H1N1 flu
References

1. Compared to women who do not get the seasonal flu shot while pregnant. Alice Goodman, Seasonal Flu Vaccine for Pregnant Mothers Protects Infants, Medscape Medical News, accessed November 2, 2009.

2. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, Adjuvant Versus Non-Adjuvant H1N1 Vaccine for Pregnant Women (PDF), October 22, 2009.

This information is based on the best medical evidence and has been reviewed several doctors, including three respirologists (breathing specialist doctors) and an infectious disease specialist doctor.

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