Do I still need to worry about getting an H1N1 vaccine?

Q:  If I have not received an H1N1 pandemic vaccine yet, do I still need one?  Also, will I need another dose this fall, when I get my regular flu shot?

A: The first part of your question is tricky.  The flu pandemic of 2009-2010 is coming to an end (WHO report, 8/10/10), although people are still getting H1N1 flu in some parts of the world.  Most people would not need vaccination with the H1N1 pandemic vaccine, unless 1) they are at high risk due to health problems, or 2) they are planning to travel into areas still experiencing high H1N1 spread.  Talk to your healthcare provider to determine your risk.

The second part is easier.  The H1N1 vaccine strain used last fall IS INCLUDED IN the seasonal flu vaccine for 2010-11.  This is the same flu vaccine usually offered in the fall to protect against influenza during our typical Winter flu season. Each year, three strains (or types) of influenza are included in the vaccine.  These vaccine strains change from year to year, based on the most common strains being detected.  Since H1N1 is still out there, it was included for this fall.  (In fact, if it had been possible, the H1N1 pandemic strain would have been included last year, but with the pandemic appearing in the spring, there was no time to incorporate it into the 2009-2010 seasonal vaccine.)

Keep your eyes and ears open for more information about our Student Health seasonal flu vaccine programs, coming soon!

Roger Miller, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University