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Ask the Experts: Flu and H1N1 Virus

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More Flu and H1N1 Information

If a patient tests negative on rapid flu,what are the chances they could still test positive for H1N1?

Most of what we are seeing in Rhode Island at this time is H1N1, so if you tested positive for the "rapid flu" you probably did have the H1N1 influenza virus.

My son has Hyper IGM. He does not make IGG. Can he receive the HINI vaccine? I was told when he was diagnosed he can't make a memory cell or make antibodies from the shot. Could you please tell me what your opinion is on this matter?
Your son probably does make some IGG, but possibly not enough. However, the vaccine is not harmful in anyway and may provide some additional protection to the H1N1 virus, so it is still recommended. If your son should experience any signs and symptoms of influenza-like illness, he should see his primary care physician or his hematologist/immunologist immediately.

I'm on day 4 of antibiotics PREVPAC to treat H. Pylori for one week, can I get H1N1 vaccine now or should wait till later (how long?)

You can receive the H1N1 vaccination while receiving an antibiotic.

Is it ok to get H1N1 shot if I'm having flu symptoms (sore throat, running nose) or should I wait?

The only symptom that you should not have to safely receive the H1N1 vaccine is a temperature of 100 degrees or higher. If you do not feel well, discussing your condition with your primary care provider would be most prudent.

Can you get the flu from the flu vaccine?

No, you cannot get the flu but you may experience soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given, low fever, or aches for a day or two. If you are vaccinated with the nasal-spray flu vaccine, side effects may include runny nose, wheezing, headache, and vomiting.

How long does it take to build immunity against the H1N1 virus?

Vaccine both seasonal and H1N1 take about 14 days for your body to build immunity. It depends on which vaccine the child received, injectable or the nasal vaccine. If you received nasal (weakened live) vaccine it can sometimes give you a false positive swab. The influenza vaccine does not always prevent influenza but will decrease the effects and potential for serious illness.

If you have just gotten over the H1N1 flu, but your child still has it, can you get it again or are you immune?

If you have had confirmed H1N1 either by swab or by physicians clinical assessment and you recover, you will have immunity. If you were to get the flu again, it is probably a different strain.

Can I take the H1N1 vaccine if I am taking an antibiotic for inflamed prostate?

Yes, there is no contraindication to receiving the vaccine while taking an antibiotic.

Is it possible to get the flu twice (relapse)?

Yes, but probably not the same strain of the flu.

I am from Ireland and I am taking an antibiotic called "Septrin Forte", I am also an asthmatic patient. I was told in Dublin that I could not have the vaccine while I was on antibiotic's...the one I'm on or any other for that matter. And that you have to wait for days after finishing the dose? Why do I see answers to the contrary on your website? Is it a different "swine flu" in your country than ours?

There is no contraindication to taking the vaccine while taking an antibiotic. The H1N1 virus is the same in Dublin as it is in the United States.

How do you know if you have the seasonal flu or the H1N1 virus?

If you have had confirmed H1N1 by swab or by a physicians clinical assessment, you will have immunity. If you should get the flu again, it would probably be another strain. If you go the CDC website www.cdc.gov and click on H1N1, you will find some good information there.

What about school bus drivers? I drive 63 kids on my high school bus alone. This does not include the elementary schools. When the windows are up and the heat is on any one of those kids could infect the bus drivers. Shouldn't we be allowed to receive a flu vaccination?

Everyone will have opportunity to get the vaccine when it becomes available. Until then, if children appear symptomatic, fever, cough, sore throat etc. ask them if they would put a mask on, if they refuse you could always put a mask on to protect yourself. Encouraging good respiratory etiquette would also be advised.

On the 2009 H1N1 Influenza Vaccine Consent form for school age children, question number 2 asks if the child has any other serious allergies and if you say yes it asks you to call the pediatrician. These offices are inundated taking care of sick children and you can't get through. If a child has allergies to antibiotics such as amoxicillins or sulfa is the vaccine contraindicated?

No, the vaccine can not be taken if you have had an allergy to eggs, a hypersensitivity to Thimerisol or a history of Guillian-Barre Syndrome. There is no Penicillin or Sulfa in the vaccine. Otherwise, your child should be able to take the vaccine.

My granddaughter has had a sore throat, fever from 100.4 to 102, headache, cough and fatigue for 4 straight days. Should she be taken to the emergency room?

The common cold can cause cough, sore throat, body aches and sometimes a low grade temperature, but the severity of these symptoms are much worse with influenza.

Our daughter was ill with flu symptoms for 3 days. It came on suddenly, she had aches, headache, tired all time, sore throat and unproductive cough, temp between 101-104 while on Tylenol and Motrin every 4 hours. We took her to the pediatrician on 2 occasions. They wouldn't test her for swine flu because they said protocol of Department of Health was not to test everyone. However, due to all her symptoms, she was treated with Tamiflu. Our son began with a sore throat, unproductive cough, headache but no temp. He was also exposed to a child with a confirmed case of H1N1 in his classroom at school. We brought him to the pediatrician and he was given Tamiflu because of his exposures. Both kids are well now. Should they both receive the H1N1 vaccine? If our daughter did indeed have the swine flu should she still be vaccinated? Should she have been swabbed?

If you have been confirmed with H1N1, you will develop immunity, however, getting the vaccination will not be harmful in any way. The pediatrician advised you correctly. Only hospitalized patients and certain sites across the state for out-patients are currently being tested (swabbed) for H1N1.

My son is 12 years old and has life-threatening food allergies. Like many people with food allergies he also has asthma making him a higher risk for complications from H1N1. It is my understanding that the seasonal flu vaccine is cultured utilizing eggs (one of the food items that my son is allergic to and therefore must avoid completely) and we therefore avoid the seasonal flu vaccine. Is the H1N1 vaccine also cultured with egg and is there any way that my son could receive the vaccine without the risk of a life threatening allergic reaction?

No, the vaccine is produced the same way as the seasonal flu vaccine and your son should not take the vaccine. Consult with your son’s pediatrician.

My 4 year old just received the first dose of the H1N1 vaccine, nasal mist. He has an appointment to get his second dose at the end of November. My question is, does he have any protection at all right now?

There is some protection after the first dose, but full immunity is not obtained until two weeks after the second dose.

How is the test done for H1N1 virus?

Currently, the only patients that are being tested for the H1N1 virus are patients that are admitted to the hospital. The "test" is a deep nasopharygeal culture (a culture that is taken up through the nose and down to the throat) that is sent to the RI Department of Health for specific testing.

My daughter tested positive for H1N1 yesterday and is doing well. I feel fine, but I am concerned that I might carry the virus to others at work. Should I stay home, even though I am not yet sick?

According to the CDC, employees who are well but who have an ill family member at home withH1N1 flu can go to work as usual. These employees should monitor their health every day, and take everyday precautions including covering their coughs and sneezes and washing their hands often with soap and water, especially after they cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, they should use an alcohol-based hand rub.

If they become ill, they should notify their supervisor and stay home. Employees who have an underlying medical condition or who are pregnant should call their health care provider for advice, because they might need to receive influenza antiviral drugs.

If this is recommended for pregnant women then why is Baylor conducting research with results at the end of this month for pregnant women? Because of the paranoia about the mercury in the H1N1 vaccine the CDC stated they are making available ones without the mercury? Do you just ask for this type or are they only being allocated to the high-risk population?

The flu shot is highly recommended for pregnant women. It is thought that women get more ill from the flu during pregnancy than at other times in their lives. Flu can cause serious complications that could lead to admission to an intensive care unit or even death. The flu shot is proven to decrease the risk from the flu.

According to the CDC, there is no evidence that thimerosal (a mercury preservative in vaccine that comes in multi-dose vials) is harmful to a pregnant woman or a fetus. However, because some women are concerned about thimerosal during pregnancy, vaccine companies are making preservative-free seasonal flu vaccines and 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine in single dose syringes for pregnant women and small children. The CDC advises pregnant women to get flu shots either with or without thimerosal.

CDC regarding vaccine

I receive a monthly infusion of gamma, due to IDD. I have already had the seasonal flu shot. My daughter is 10 and has not had the regular flu shot yet. Her pediatrician does not have it yet. They told me they do have the mist which is the active virus. They suggested I find out first if this is safe, due to me being IDD patient. Please advise. How soon after she has the regular flu shot can she have the H1N1?

You should not receive the flu mist, but it is okay for your daughter to receive.

If you had the swine flu this summer and were taking Tamiflu do you have some kind of immunity?

The symptoms of influenza (flu-like illnesses) are similar to those caused by many other viruses. According to the CDC, if you had previous lab confirmed testing (a PCR test) for H1N1 then vaccination with H1N1 vaccine is not necessary this year. If the previous influenza like illness is not confirmed by the lab test then vaccine is indicated.

My daughter was seen in the ER on October 21, 2009. She was diagnosis with flu-like symptoms. Her temp was at 104 degrees and has gradually come down over the past few days.Today,her temperature is100.2. Should I be concerned about bringing her to be checked again or should I just continue with the Tylenol and Motrin? My co-workers seem to think that there may be an antibiotic that I can get for her. My gut tells me to continue what I am doing and let it run its course.

If you, as a mother, feel uncomfortable with your daughter's medical condition or she is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, you should seek medical attention:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing.
  • Blueish color on skin or around mouth and lips.
  • Dehydration (no tears, dried lips and mouth, not drinking enough fluids).
  • Not waking up or not interacting.
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held.
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and a worse cough.
  • Fever with a rash.

I am 34 years old and in good health, should I get the flu shot for H1N1?

Yes, we encourage you to get the H1N1 flu shot when it becomes available.

I would like to know if diarrhea without fever or other symptoms could be swine flu? Or is there a separate virus around?

Diarrhea without fever, cough or sore throat is unlikely to be H1N1. If diarrhea is persistent, you should see your doctor.

I have lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.When will I be able to get the H1N1 vaccine?

The RI Department of Health will release vaccine as it becomes available. Pregnant women, people under 25 and people with illnesses that affect their immune system will be the first to receive. Eventually everyone will have the opportunity to be vaccinated.

I’m 70 (almost 71) years old and have chronic diabetes and COPD. Am I too old to get the swine flu shot and if not, where can I get it.I have already had the seasonal flu shot. Also wondering if I should get a pneumonia shot.The last one I had was about 10 years ago.

You are not too old to get the shot. The vaccine is not available at this time. The vaccine is being prioritized at this time to those most at risk. This group includes pregnant women, children, health care workers, etc. The RI Department of Health will announce where the public will be able to go when vaccine becomes available, which is projected for January at this time. The recommendation is for the pneumonia shot to be given every 5 years.

My grandson is 16. He has congenital adrenal hypoplacia, which puts him at high risk for H1N1. I would like to get him vaccinated ASAP (today). Where can we go? He is a football player and has played against Lasalle where is currently an outbreak of H1N1.

Children will be vaccinated through their school system. The Department of Education is working with the RI Department of Health to organize this. School-age children are expected to be vaccinated in November depending on vaccine availability. They are part of the first priority group to receive vaccine.

I have been searching for confirmed cases of H1Nn1 in RI with no luck. I would really like to know this information as it would affect my decision as to if I will send my 5 year old to school. Why is it so hard to find this information? I am very concerned because she is unable to get the vaccine through her pediatrician since she is "school age" and will be receiving it in school, supposedly in November. I don't have high hopes for that date, though.

The RI Department of Health web site provides information on this. We have provided the link below. Pediatricians are vaccinating children under 5 at this time, those who attend school will be vaccinated through their school.

If a person has every symptom of the H1N1 except a fever could it still be the flu and how could one know for sure?

Fever is the primary symptom. Colds may also cause cough, sore throat and body aches, but the severity of these symptoms is much worse with Influenza.

My son is in college. They have told him that they will probably be starting the nasal swine flu vaccine soon. He does not have asthma, but has reactive airway disease every time he gets sick with a respiratory infection. He needs to use albuterol for a month afterwards.This is the only time he becomes symptomatic. I am reading that people who have asthma should not receive the H1N1 vaccine intranasally. Is my son included in this group or is it truly for asthmatic patients that require daily meds to control their condition?

If your son has significant attacks of Bronchospasm (wheezing) he should wait for the killed vaccine. There is effective treatment for H1N1 (Tamiflu) if it is taken early in the course of the disease.

What is the ratio of deaths for people given the vaccine for the H1N1 virus? What are some complications of the H1N1 virus? What is the likelihood of an individual receiving anyone of those complications?

Serious reactions to the vaccines are rare, but about 1 in 1,000 people die who get Influenza. Licensed vaccines, including flu vaccines, are developed using the highest standards of safety. The RI Department of Health web site has information on H1N1 vaccine safety. Vaccines continue to be closely monitored after they are licensed.

I am an expecting mother who is anxious to get the H1N1 shot. As far as I can tell the shot is not yet available in RI. Is this true, and if so what is the best way to stay informed of when the vaccine arrives?

Contact your obstetrician regarding availability of the vaccine. The vaccine has started to become available for pregnant women.

Do you trust the mist for a 2 year old? I am worried about long-term effects.

Licensed vaccines, including flu vaccines, are developed using the highest standards of safety. Visit the RI Department of Health web site for H1N1 vaccine safety. Vaccines continue to be closely monitored after they are licensed. The virus in the nasal spray is weakened and does not cause severe side effects.The flu mist is safe and approved for well people between the ages of 2 and 49.

I have a child who has asthma and a daughter who has had a sinus infection and been on antibiotics within the last week. Should they both get the shot. They are both students.

Yes, they can receive the vaccine as long as they do not have fever. Please discuss this with your pediatrician though.

Should I vaccinate my two children one is a 15 year old girl never received any flu vaccines and the other is an 8 year old boy also never received a flu vaccine. I am torn and not sure if I should have them vaccinated. They are pretty healthy most of the time.

Yes, the vaccine is the best way to prevent illness.

Is it true that you shouldn't get the H1N1 vaccine if you’re on an aspirin regiment? Also, what are the side effects of the vaccine?

How old is the person on Aspirin? The side effects of the injectable vaccine include soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot is given as well as low grade fever, aches, and nausea. The killed vaccine is approved for all people over 6 months of age who do not have a severe allergy to eggs.

Recently, I received a flu shot (regular). Prior to receiving the shot I was asked if I was on an antibiotic. I am on a maintenance dose of Doxycycline 100 mg twice a day for Roseacea. The health care professional said there would be no problem since I was on the dosage for a long period of time. My question(s) are: 1) Does taking an antibiotic prior to a flu shot (regular or H1N1) effect the potency of the shot? 2) Why would a short-term ingestion of an antibiotic effect the flu shot and a long-term maintenance dose not effect the same shots? Should I consult my doctor to go on a "drug holiday" prior to taking the H1N1?

You may have a flu shot while taking an antibiotic.

Is someone without a spleen considered at risk for complications from H1N1?

Patients without a spleen are at severe risk for severe pneumococcal infection which may follow an episode of influenza. Take the flu shot and the pneumonia vaccine.

If a family member has tested positive for type A flu and is taking an antiviral drug should the rest of the family be prescribed the antiviral also?

That is a medical decision that needs to be made with your doctor.

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